The Washington Capitals announced Thursday morning that they had (finally) signed forward prospect Ethen Frank to a one-year, two-way deal for the 2023-24 season. And while the deal is just for next season, the announcement came as a huge relief for many Capitals and Bears fans who have been following Frank since his arrival in Hershey.
Frank was originally scouted by Danny Brooks, the Capitals Director of Player Recruitment, and was ultimately signed to an AHL deal in April of 2022. The AHL deal was just for the 2022-23 season, making Frank an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
Signing Frank to an AHL-only deal in the spring of 2022 was the right call at the time, as the Capitals were closing in on the maximum allowable contracts (50). However, the pending free agent has had a great season. So much so, it’s very likely he would have garnered significant attention on the free agent market this summer. But the Capitals got it done.
“He’s had a really good year,” said Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan on Friday. “We signed him as a college free agent, looking to see how we could develop him, or how he would play in the American League. Obviously, he’s had a great year scoring goals, an (AHL) All-Star. I think it was a ‘no brainer’ to sign him to an NHL deal and then go from there for next year. See how he is in training camp and make decisions based on that.”
Oh Danny Boy
As noted, Frank was another college free agent find and 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.
So what made Frank decide to forgo free agency? We can only speculate, but it could very well do with loyalty to Brooks and the Capitals, who gave him his shot at pro hockey. It’s simply a hunch, but it may not be far off.
“Danny Brooks is a great recruiter and coach,” said Capitals goaltending prospect Clay Stevenson in a recent interview with NoVa Caps. “He has an incredible view on life and is a great person to know and talk to. He is also a good guy to have in your corner.”
For those unfamiliar with Frank’s game, his shot is the first thing that jumps out at you, when watching him play for the first time. His one-timer is the appetizer, his pinpoint wrist shot is the dessert.
Ethan Frank is on fire! 5th goal in last 5 games. #HBH #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/kqTpSTOK3K
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) November 12, 2022
Frank’s next best asset, his speed, has recently become widely known in the hockey world, as Frank won the fastest skater competition at this year’s AHL All-Star weekend. He set a new league record in doing so.
Rookie Ethen Frank leads the Bears in goals (21) and is second in points (37)… AND HE CAN FLY! #HBH #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/ctdeTcynvF
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) February 5, 2023
Frank uses his speed whenever he can. It’s been a significant component of his game and style of play, and rightfully so.
“I really like pushing the pace, especially playing with (Mason) Morelli now. We both play a pretty similar game and pushing the pace is a big part of my game. Making their D turn and their forwards play a 200 foot game and go all the way back in their D zone is something I take pride in, and I continue to build on that.”
A New Deal
Frank recently spoke with Hershey Bears radio about his new NHL deal and the work he’s done to get to this point in his career. And while an NHL contract for a kid from Nebraska is pretty impressive, Frank knows there is still a lot of work ahead of him.
“This year’s been going pretty well for me, personally. Tip your hat to the rest of the team because this is a team game. Nothing happens from an individual,” said Frank. “I think it’s been a long time coming for me. There’s been a lot of hard work. A lot of unseen hours. It feels good, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.”
Like all players looking to make that final leap to the NHL, Frank is continuing to work hard on other aspects of his game.
“You can never be too good, defensively. I think that’s a big part. And then play without the puck. Reloading, tracking, being in the right spot when I dont have the puck, I think is big, and can help the team a lot.”
Hailing from the plains of Nebraska and signing an NHL contract has not been lost on Frank at all.
“I think it means a lot. There’s not a lot of hockey in Omaha. It’s nice to be one of the guys to move on in hockey and have some success. It kinda shows that you don’t have to be from a hockey state to have success and have a good career in the game. Anyone can do it, as long as your put your mind to it and work hard.”
By Jon Sorensen
Looking forward to following Franks climb to the big club. Good work ethic, good skills base.
Sounds well grounded, sensible. Glad we got him signed.
Wish the Bears had signed Carter Turnbull before he went to Slovakia.
Love Franky’s game. He’s not super flashy. He’s grounded and seems to have a good head on his shoulders.