There tends to be two basic cases of NHL-to-KHL defections. On one hand, you have players who seemed to leave the NHL too soon (Alex Radulov is the poster child for this scenario). Conversely, there are cases in which a player needs to find his game again overseas or simply doesn’t have what it takes to be relevant in the league any longer.
On face value, Alex Frolov’s defection would seemingly fit in the “too soon” category. After all, the two-time 30-goal scorer is just 28-years-old. Yet anyone who has followed his career (particularly during the last two seasons) would acknowledge that his game has fallen off the map.
Frolov’s first six seasons with the Los Angeles Kings seemed to implicate a slow rise to semi-stardom, but his final one included healthy scratches and a disappointing 19-goal output (his second lowest since joining the team). He tried to resurrect his career with the New York Rangers in 2010-11, but a torn ACL cut short a depressingly unproductive season (seven goals and nine assists for 16 points in 43 games played).
It’s not crazy to wonder if Frolov could have given it one more shot in 2011-12, but you cannot really blame him for leaving the NHL, either. While the Russian winger sports solid size and puck possession skills, his game is often a bit passive and he probably suffered from some personality clashes with his last two hard-nosed coaches. He should be more at home (both literally and figuratively) in Russia.
Greg Wyshynski reports that Frolov signed a three-year deal with Avangard Omsk, so perhaps he’ll want to give the NHL another shot once that deal runs out. He would be 31 going on 32 around that time, so it’s not out of the question that he could return.
The bigger question, obviously, is if whether or not he would want to come back.