However, to a team in the Leafs’ position, he’s useless. As we established from the beginning, the Leafs are not realistic contenders for the Cup this year. When they finally are ready – even one year later – Frolov would not be around. In the mean time, he’d take up a valuable roster spot; valuable as a tool for imparting priceless experience on a young player who is going to be part of future Leafs’ Cup runs.
Right now in my eyes the Leafs have three true "top six" wingers; Nikolai Kulemin, Kris Versteeg and Phil Kessel. There are two bubble wingers in Colby Armstrong and Luca Caputi.
If we look at Caputi as a player who would be gaining "priceless experience" I think that his game needs a little more polish before he's ready for a top six role. Ordinarily I'd say toss him on the Marlies but Caputi has dominated the AHL level for too long for that to matter. I'd put him on the third line in the right situations with the right minutes to develop.
The Leafs have room for another top six winger and for a guy like Frolov I think there'd be a lot of positives for him and the Leafs if he had signed here.
For the Leafs having a guy like Frolov come in and replace Ponikarovsky's production would be a big step towards stepping out of the draft lottery and hoping to get a little lucky in a weak Eastern Conference. He would also be a valuable trading chip at the trade deadline. If Frolov played well a lot of teams would be interested and he would return the Leafs a 2nd round pick or maybe even a good prospect (see: Ponikarovsky's trade last year).
This benefits Frolov as well: he'd get tons of good minutes with the top line and power play time. He'd be in a position to maximize his counting stats and then get traded to a playoff team to continue marketing himself as a player worth a long deal.
Admittedly Frolov wouldn't be around next year or the year after but the reasons given: that he'd stunt development and then disappear don't hold up. Frolov could give us a draft pick back or a prospect on top of helping the team for a year in the short term.
Too late now.