As players around the league move quickly to find new homes in advance of training camps, the Habs have dipped their toes into the free agent waters again with the signing of winger Michael Frolik to a one-year deal. It’s a one-way pact that pays $750,000.
Back in 2015, it was believed that the Canadiens had some level of interest in him as an unrestricted free agent when he was one of the better wingers on the market. (He eventually signed for five years and $21.5 million with Calgary.) Unfortunately for him and the Flames, things went south in a hurry in the second half of the deal.
Last season was simply dreadful for him, to put it nicely. He had just five goals and five assists in 38 games with Calgary while logging less than 12 minutes a night in ice time before being traded to Buffalo at the time that the Sabres shipped Marco Scandella to Montreal. Frolik’s production with them was even worse as he had just one goal and three assists in 19 games before the pandemic shut things down for the year.
So why did the Habs sign him then? He can play both wings and is still a serviceable penalty killer so he can still play a limited role in the NHL. He likely takes the 13th forward spot on the depth chart which wasn’t really filled (Alex Belzile may have been the favourite for that role before this move) so it doesn’t necessarily mean that this is the precursor to another move. It’s likely just added depth in a truncated season where depth is going to be needed more than usual.
This signing also potentially signifies Montreal’s plans to carry a smaller roster as often as possible. With Frolik in the fold, they’re probably capped at carrying 21 players, depending on the final composition of the roster. (Had it been a minimum-salaried signing, carrying 22 was doable.) The benefit of having the taxi squad with the team is the ability to shift players back and forth without them actually leaving the team and this move suggests they’ll be taking full advantage of that opportunity.