Report: Capitals “Expected” To Sign Ethen Frank To NHL Deal

The cat is out of the bag, as they say.

The rest of the hockey world is finally finding out about Ethen Frank. While we’ve been reporting on him and singing his praises for several months now, the rest of the hockey world has finally caught on. And now that may be a concern, as outside interest for Frank is building.

NHL organizations, mainstream media and other “outsiders” finally caught on to Frank over the weekend when Frank won the AHL’s Fastest Skater competition. He also set a new League record.

Frank, who is currently on an AHL deal, will be a free agent at the end of the season, unless the Capitals can sign him first. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friendman is reporting in his latest “32 Thoughts” column, he believes the Capitals are trying to do exactly that.

There’s also some interest in Ethen Frank, who won the AHL’s fastest skater competition this week. He’s with Hershey on a non-NHL contract, but there is word Washington wants to sign him and is expected to do so. If not, there would be others chasing him.

Frank was another high-quality college free agent signing by Capitals’ Director of Player Recruitment, Danny Brooks, who has also successfully recruited and signed undrafted college free-agents Joe Snively, Bobby Nardella and Clay Stevenson, just to name a few.

[Related:Rookie Ethen Frank Leading The Way In Hershey]

Frank, a college free-agent, signed with the Bears in April of 2022, and has been by far the most impressive young forward so far this season in Hershey. Frank is tied for first among all AHL rookies in goals (21) and is second among all AHL rookies in points (37). He leads all Bears in goals and is second on the team in points.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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26 Responses to Report: Capitals “Expected” To Sign Ethen Frank To NHL Deal

  1. KimRB says:

    Was just reading Friedman’s 32 Thoughts roundup, and found this news.

    Fast skater, with a great shot. Yeah, no brainer here. I think he can seriously challenge for a NHL spot in September. He’s got all the tools.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Not exactly a “no brained”. He really has the negotiating powers right now. If he wants to test free agent market, he will, and you can’t blame him.

      • KimRB says:

        No brainer from the team’s perspective. I like to play armchair GM, as do most fans, and I think mostly from that POV.

        The Caps should have an advantage, seeing how Frank is familiar with the organization, and there could be a RW spot open this coming season, or even two, if Hathaway and Sheary aren’t resigned.

  2. Anonymous says:

    No nhl contract, a 5yr deal would entice him.

  3. Mark Eiben says:

    Caps will probably be moving on from a few more Hershey players after the season so why not sign him to a two year/two way deal and see how it goes? I hear, like most young scoring wingers, that he needs to work on his defense. What a shock, a young winger who plays only 1 way…Either way, it’s worth a shot.

    • KimRB says:

      Like Jon wrote above, he’s a free agent after this season, and can sign with whoever he wants. If I’m him, I’d be asking for a one way deal. If the Caps won’t give it to him, someone else probably will. The guy is a pure sniper, having led the NCAA last season in goals, and leads all rookies in the AHL in the same category this year.

      PS: he’s not a bad passer either

  4. Anonymous says:

    FRANK THE TANK! his shot is better than his speed, it’s a “howitzer” 😂

  5. Lance says:

    Does Frank have to sign a 3 year (max) entry level contract?

    • GRin430 says:

      No. He’s over 25 now, so would sign a regular contract, and will be unrestricted when that new contract expires.

      • GRin430 says:

        In fact, now that I think about it, he just turned 25 this week, which means he just aged out of the ELC requirement… maybe that’s what he was waiting for, to give himself a better negotiating position?

  6. Lance says:

    What does Frank project to in the NHL? He’s clearly faster than average and has a good shot. The knock is he’s small, right? Is his upside 20 goals? Or 30+?

    • GRin430 says:

      Listed at 5’11”, 185, so he is small, but that’s not a major issue for NHL forwards these days (Oshie and Sheary are small… Johnny Hockey and Patty Kane, etc., are tiny) . The biggest question mark is his defensive play, but there’s no indication that he’s unwilling or unable to play in the defensive end, unlike some Caps players past and present.

    • KimRB says:

      Alex Debrincat is his comparable, I’d say. Not sure he’d hit 40 goals, but I think 30 is attainable.

  7. GRin430 says:

    The Caps need to figure this out as part of their overall outlook at the deadline and beyond. They have a couple of contract slots now, and lots after this year. They should also have the cap space to give him a reasonable “prove it” contract for a couple of years at ~$1.5-2M per, maybe more depending on whether they really think he can play effectively at the next level.

    On a more cautious note, let’s keep in mind that lots of players end up being tweeners… Great in the AHL or even KHL, just can’t make it in the NHL. I haven’t seen Frank play live, so I have no idea if he’s the real deal, or just having a dream AHL season and the clock is about to strike midnight.

    What do those who watch the Bears play regularly — particularly live and in person — think of his chances at the next level?

    • KimRB says:

      I can use a goal against Bridgeport last Friday as an example of his skill. On the PP, he was in Ovechkin’s office, barely flicked his wrists, puck made it past the Hershey screener, the Bridgeport defenseman, and goalie, right in the net. And the goalie didn’t twitch. Frank is a sniper. My educated guess is he bottoms out as Daniel Sprong, tops out as Alex Debrincat. But I think he has an future in the NHL

  8. Anonymous says:

    I agree that the Caps need to get Frank under contract and see where it goes, most likely with more time in Hershey.
    But some of the expectations are kind of amusing. He led the NCAA in goals as a 5th year player and wasn’t showing that type of scoring prowess prior to his 5th year which is why he was on a Hershey contract. It was unknown if he’d be in the AHL or ECHL when the season started. He has offensive tools and is now learning to expand other parts of his game. Hopefully that continues.

    • KimRB says:

      He was on a Hershey contract because the Capitals were getting close to the 50 contract limit, according to NHL rules.
      So there goes that ridiculous theory to hell.

    • GRin430 says:

      Shane Gersich also has speed, had one great year of college hockey, then never scored like that again and now appears to be an AHL lifer. At least this kid has shown scoring touch at the AHL level, which puts him one step closer to the NHL than Gersich.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Promote Danny Brooks!

  10. jonicap says:

    So upsetting they waited this long to get into serious negotiations.

  11. hockeydruid says:

    Time for the GM to get off his seat and sign this guy to a 3 year 2 way deal. He can take NAK place and Snively can take MoJo place and either CMM or HL can take Ellers place and the other can take Hathaways place. Now just have to go out and resign some of the D guys or get some off the FA market. If somehow you can get rid of Mantha the Protas and Malenstyn have a slot to compete for. Now with Frank on a 2 way deal me can be sent back and both Protas and Malenstyn make the team.

  12. Geoffy says:

    Why bother signing anyone if you have no intention of developing them? Perfectly good signings, line-up ready players like Joe Snively are withering on the vine as the oldest line-up in the league calcifies before our eyes. And the solution is not more ice time for the lumbering and limited (Protas). Size isn’t a skill.

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