Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011
Posted 7:48 p.m. Updated 10:05 p.m.
By Tracey Myers
EDMONTON, Alberta -- Michael Frolik has had the Chicago Blackhawks interest dating back to when he was a first-round draft pick in 2006.
Now theyve got him and he will meet the Blackhawks in Dallas.
The Blackhawks acquired Frolik and goaltender Alexander Salak for Jack Skille, Hugh Jessiman and David Pacan on Wednesday night. The move gives the Blackhawks a versatile player in Frolik, who has played all three forward positions.
General manager Stan Bowman, speaking via conference call, said hes been impressed with what Frolik has been able to do already. Frolik was the Panthers top selection (10th overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
At this point its premature to say where hell play, but having a guy who can play either right or left or in the middle is a tool at coach Joel Quennevilles disposal, Bowman said. Well probably figure that out over the next couple of weeks once we see the chemistry he develops. Hes played second line, third line, hes a responsible player and hes trusted at a young age.
Bowman said the trade has been developing for a few weeks.
It takes time and it finally came to the point where both sides were ready to make it happen, he said. We feel like we want to improve our team. This certainly does that.
The 6-foot-1, 196-pound Frolik is in his third season with the Panthers. The 22-year-old native of the Czech Republic has eight goals and 21 assists in 52 games this season for Florida, but has gone without a goal in his last 23 games.
Frolik had 21 goals in each of his past two seasons with the Panthers. Hes in the final year of an entry-level contract that pays him 850,000 this season. With bonuses, his salary cap hit is at 1.275 million.
Skille, the Blackhawks seventh overall selection in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, has seven goals and 10 assists in 49 games this season. The fourth-line right wing said he was told he was being traded after taking initial warm-ups before the Blackhawks game against Edmonton tonight at Rexall Place.
It was sad to say goodbye to all those great guys in the locker room tonight. Thats a moment Ill never forget, said the 23-year-old Skille, who was flying to Florida Wednesday night. The Panthers host the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday. Its a great, tight-knit group of guys in Chicago. But Im excited about the opportunity Im being given in Florida.
Skille said he heard the rumors that he could be moved but he tried to put them out of his mind and focus on the Blackhawks. He wants an opportunity to move up among the lines and hopes he gets that with Florida, where hell be reunited with Dale Tallon -- the man who drafted him in Chicago.
I feel like Im better than a fourth-line player. But at the same time, thats the role youre given and you have to play it, Skille said. Now its a matter of seeing what the Panthers see in me and what role they want me to be at and hopefully I can fit in well.
Salak, 24, leads all Swedish Elite League goaltenders with a .925 save percentage and six shutouts. He also has a 2.04 goals-against average in 41 games with Farjestad BK.
The Blackhawks have got that versatile forward they wanted. There are a few weeks remaining before the Feb. 28 trade deadline and Bowman didnt rule out another move being made.
Well keep an eye on things, Bowman said. Were certainly looking to improve our team but thats probably common to every team. Were not going to shy away from another trade if its there to be made. Up until this point there havent been many trades. Were pursuing it daily. We have a lot of conversations and were not going to stop trying to make something happen. Hopefully itll work.
Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.