For the first time in four years, the Red Wings have signed a prospect in his draft year. On Tuesday, they signed their first pick in last month’s NHL draft, agreeing to a three-year entry-level contract with forward Martin Frk.
Selected 49th overall, Frk will return to Halifax for the upcoming campaign, where he’ll play his third season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
“He came to camp and our guys liked him in Traverse City,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “He competes hard and has a good shot and he has one year of junior remaining and then he’s pro eligible. So based upon his age, based upon what we saw in Traverse and what our scouts have seen out of him the last couple of years, we decided to sign him to a contract.”
The 19-year-old Czechoslovakian is the first Wings’ prospect signed to an entry-level deal a month removed from being drafted since goalie Thomas McCollum signed four months after he was drafted 30th overall in 2008.
Frk was among 41 prospects and invitees who attended the Wings’ seven-day development camp earlier in the month in northern Michigan. While the camp gave prospects an idea of what life is like as a professional hockey player, Frk understands that his work is just beginning.
“For sure, play better defense and be a better skater,” said Frk of areas he needs to improve. “And trying not to look too much for other guys (to pass to) because I think I have a great shot, so using my shot more.”
Frk, 6-foot and 198 pounds, missed much of the 2011-12 season with a concussion suffered during the QMJHL preseason, but he managed to rebound to score 10 goals with 17 assists in the final 24 games of the regular-season. In two seasons with the Moosheads, Frk has produced 38 goals and 41 assists in 96 games.
Jiri Fischer, the Wings’ director of player development, has seen plenty of the left-handed shooting forward. Fischer has been an assistant coach on the Czech national team that Frk has been a part of in three World Junior Championships.
“Every time he steps onto the ice he wants to be the best player,” Fischer said. “He wants to make a difference, he wants the puck, he’s got good scoring ability, he can finish, he works, he’s relentless, he forechecks, he’s going to have to work on his top speed, the NHL is getting every year faster and faster through the neutral zone. He’s got the mentality of wanting to be great.”