The Halifax Mooseheads right wing's first half of the season was a failure to launch scenario, thanks to a concussion he sustained in September. The 18-year-old Czech, who's vying to be a first-round NHL pick in June, ultimately had to pass on playing in his second world junior championship since he was not fully recovered from the lengthy layoff. However, there is reason to believe his best hockey of the season is in front of him as the playoffs approach. Frk is earnest about showing he can play an all-around game and not just score.
"I want to show everybody that I can play hockey and that I'm ready for the NHL," says Frk, who was 25th in NHL Central Scouting's midterm North American ranking despite barely playing a game before Christmas. "The coach knows I can score
"The beginning of the season was not easy for me, I was still not in the best shape," Frk adds. "But after a couple games I felt much better."
The native of Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, has 24 points (13G-11A) in 29 games this season for the Mooseheads, who are tied for sixth in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League entering the final two weeks of the regular season. First-year coach Dominique Ducharme has been deploying the solid 6-foot, 198-pound Frk as a right wing alongside top 2013 NHL draft prospect Nathan MacKinnon in hope the two will develop a chemistry. MacKinnon's speed and vision and Frk's hands seem like strong complements. Ducharme is hopeful Frk will have his break out when the playoffs begin.
"His last month there's been some ups and downs, but he's going toward his top," Ducharme says. "I think we're starting to see him almost at his top form. I really think that playoffs is where we're going to see Marty at his best. He will have played almost 35 games by then, for two-and-a-half, three months. That's where we'll see Marty be better."
1. What is the most important skill you have to work on before you can turn pro?
"For sure, skating. Being quicker on my starts."
2. People in the stands can quickly pick up on how talented Nathan MacKinnon is, but what is it like to skate on his line?
"It's fun. He's a great player. I've never seen a better player who's '95 age [born in 1995]. He can do everything on the ice. He can go help the defence and then get the puck. He can beat like 5 guys on the ice.
"He's very serious, like if someone makes a bad pass, he's very serious. But that's because he's young. Next year, if that happens, he'll probably be smiling all the time."
3. Whom in the NHL do you watch closely for tips or pointers?
"I like to watch the Czech players, like [Ottawa Senators left wing] Milan Michalek and [Chicago Blackhawks left wing] Michael Frolik. As for playing, I think I need to be like myself."
4. Of course, you sat out the world junior championship because you were still getting back in game shape after being out three months, but what did you think of countryman Petr Mrazek's celebrations during the tournament?
"I laughed a lot. I watched it on TV. It was amazing watching the guys beat the U.S.."
5. Hockey players really have to monitor their nutrition, but no one's perfect. What's your guilty pleasure food — favourite junk food?
"I like donairs, being in Nova Scotia. Obviously I can't have them because I need to check my weight every day here. Too much fat."
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (photo: The Canadian Press; video: Telus).