The following is an excerpt from an interview with Florida Panthers 2006 No. 1 Draft Pick Michael Frolik. To read the interview in its entirety, pick up the April issue of Panthers Insider, available now.
Panthers Insider had a chance to catch-up with Michael Frolik, the Panthers first round draft pick of the 2006 NHL Entry draft held in Vancouver last June. Frolik was in town on the heels of completing his first professional season in North America with the Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He finished the season with 31 goals and 42 assists in just 52 games, and is turning heads at all levels as he hopes to be on the ice wearing a Panthers sweater sooner rather than later.
Panthers Insider: Did you feel any pressure this year because you were such a high first round draft pick in 2006?
Michael Frolik: There is some pressure but I think I had a good season at Rimouski. I learned a new style of hockey and a new language. I hope to get to the NHL as soon as possible.
PI: This was your first year playing in North America. What is the major difference between here and Europe?
MF: European hockey has bigger rinks, and the style is different. It’s not as physical of a game, it’s more of a smart game. There are older guys playing in Europe. Over here, players are bigger and more physical.
PI: How was your first season at Rimouski?
MF: We didn’t make the playoffs this year, but for me personally I think it was a good season. I had a little bit of an injury at the beginning of the year, but after Christmas I think I played real well.
PI: Your English has improved drastically since last year’s draft. How are you learning the language?
MF: I am taking courses to learn English. I practice everyday and just being around people who speak English all the time, I pick up words. My English still isn’t very good, but I am learning.
PI: We found out that Rostislav Olesz is hosting you while you are in Florida. Do you know him well?
MF: I was with him in the World Under-20 Championships and he speaks the same language as me. I know him well and we speak a lot. He’s a good guy, and I like him.