Frolov: stay or go?

As mentioned the other day, the Kings will potentially have six unrestricted free agents on July 1: Alexander Frolov, Jeff Halpern, Raitis Ivanans, Randy Jones, Fredrik Modin and Sean O’Donnell. The most intriguing situation, by far, is that of Frolov, whose seven-season career with the Kings has been quite a journey. A first-round draft pick in 2000, Frolov finally reached the playoffs this season. A former two-time 30-goal scorer, Frolov netted only 19 goals this season, his lowest total since his rookie season (14) and he drew the public ire of Terry Murray, who benched him from an early-season game because the coach didn’t like his attitude and play. That said, Frolov brings immense talent to the table, at both ends of the ice, for stretches of time, and there’s bound to be significant debate about whether he should return. A lot of that might be determined by how much of a raise Frolov is seeking from his current $2.9 million.

Murray was asked today whether he would endorse the idea of Frolov returning next season…

MURRAY: “Absolutely, sure. Fro, maybe on the goal-production side of things, he was down. We see him as a 30-goal scorer. How long has he been here? Seven years, this year? He’s got some things in his game that maybe I would still like to change, that I would like to see done differently. Just the overall approach to the game, I want to keep pushing it, but he’s a good player. He’s a very good player. He’s a big-bodied, strong guy. He plays the kind of game that you have to play in the NHL, meaning down low, holding onto the puck, cycling, having confidence taking it to the net. He can do that. And I have to demand more from him, on a consistent basis, in that area.”

As a follow-up, Murray was asked if he had any issues with Frolov after the one-game benching in October…

MURRAY: “We had a conversation after that. I think the only concern he had was a lot of the chatter going around the hockey world. His name was in the middle of it. He didn’t have any issue with what he and I had talked about, and what I need from him.”

Finally, in a general sense, Dustin Brown was asked about the idea that as many as six players might be gone from this team, and how it might feel to have something of a new look in the locker room next season…

BROWN: “That’s a part of pro sports today, is new guys coming in and some guys leaving. I’ve touched on this in other interviews, but I think the important thing is that our core guys, not only have they been together but they’re going to continue to be together. When you look around the league, some of the better teams always have that group of guys that have been there for X amount of years, and they have kind of grown and gone through it together. I don’t know who’s leaving and who’s not. I haven’t really thought about it all that much. I haven’t had time to reflect on anything, really. But you know, for a fact, that the core group of guys that they’re trying to put in place to be the heart of this team is going to be back. That’s something that, before, hasn’t always been the case with the Kings.”

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