Martin Frk or Luke Witkowski? The Choice Should Be Clear

Martin Frk warming up last season with the Griffins – Photo credit by Diane Woodring

Last night the Red Wings opened up the new Little Caesar’s Arena (or The DoughJoe or Pizzarena or whatever clever nickname you so choose) with a thunderous 5-1 drumming of the Boston Bruins. A centerpoint of that victory was a powerplay that dare I say was actually looking competent at worst and frighteningly good at best. Martin Frk was a huge part of that PP, with 2 goals and an assist last night, and looked fantastic. Yet for a large portion of the evening I kept hearing discussion about Luke Witkowski of all people. Good ole Michigan boy Witkowski, he’s got offense and defense, can play forward or defense, and brings a big bowl of grits to the table.

Here’s the thing: there’s a non zero chance we’re going to see Luke Witkowski playing on the fourth line this year, and Martin Frk will either be in Grand Rapids or lost to waivers (again). After last night’s game, a lot of people are going to ask why if that happens.

First, I hope it doesn’t. I think Martin Frk is far more deserving of a shot that Luke Witkowski is. He looks like he can bring another weapon to a Wings PP that desperately needed it last year, while Witkowski brings…toughness, I guess? He tried to fight a couple people last night, it looked like. Witkowski has played 54 games in the NHL, while Frk has only seen a pair, so the edge in experience may be Witkowski’s, but in terms of numbers Frk has far more potential upside. He is a .55 PPG in the AHL, compared to Witkowski’s .18 PPG. Frk is also 4 years younger than Witkowski. Frk could be a productive middle 6 player for the Red Wings if he finds his stride. Witkowski does not look like more than a short term piece at best.

Some people might argue that Witkowski’s numbers aren’t a fair comparison because he played primarily defense and he is looking to slot in as a forward with the Red Wings now. Ignoring the fact that Witkowski is a defenseman by trade and only moved up due to copious amounts of injuries last year in Tampa, I will just say this: Justin Abdelkader. We already have an enormous contract locking up our gritty forward role. Abby is the type of player that Witkowski is being billed as, except I would argue Abby is clearly better, and there is no reason to slot two of them on your team.

Especially not when Martin Frk is throwing useful bombs like these:

Or putting in these:

If Witkowski gets the spot ahead of Frk, it’ll seem like we’re in for more of the same regarding roster decisions. A desire to supplant promising young players with the “gritty toughness” of veterans and 4th liners that are being slowly phased out of the game. A realization that the coaching staff of the Detroit Red Wings still can’t see the forest for the trees.

The Wings are looking like they’ll perform worse than last year. Martin Frk has never gotten a shot at playing for the Red Wings. There won’t be a better time to give it to him.

Please give it to him.

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