Oilers acquire Mark Fraser from Toronto

Jonathan Willis
January 31 2014 09:06AM

TSN's Darren Dreger reports that the Oilers have added some size to their blue line, adding Mark Fraser from Toronto.

What The Oilers Sent Away

The players going the other way in the deal were both outside of the organization's plans, so the cost on this isn't especially dear.

Teemu Hartikainen is having a pretty good season in Russia and has to be the guy the Leafs were interested in on this deal. He's a big winger with some skill who couldn't do much in 23 NHL games last season with the Oilers; he wasn't interested in staying in the organization on a two-way deal and so he went off to Russia. I've been told down the line that this isn't a player that Edmonton really had plans for, but that doesn't mean he might not break out with the Leafs. 

Cameron Abney, the other guy in the trade, has negative value; he's an ECHL enforcer taking up a spot on Edmonton's 50-man list. In the Oilers' organization he was passed as a player by Erick Lizon (currently with the CHL's Wichita Thunder). 

What the Oilers Added

Everybody hoping Edmonton would add a big, physical defenceman for the third pair got their wish today.

Fraser is listed at 6'4", 220 pounds. He has had three fights in the NHL this season; last year he had nine fights in the majors and eight in the AHL. He's a stay-at-home defenceman who plays a throwback style; the new Theo Peckham on Edmonton's blue line. 

As for what he is as a player? Theo Peckham isn't far-off as a comparison there, either. Fraser has struggled badly this year, with regular partners Paul Ranger and Morgan Rielly both faring better without him than with him. Of interest, though, is the way he and Cody Franson played together last season, and the way his regular partners in New Jersey (primarily Andy Greene and Johnny Oduya) played with and without him. He has had a measure of success in the NHL before, even if he isn't enjoying that this season.

For the time being the pending unrestricted free agent can provide the Oilers with physical play in the six/seven slot and provide the Oilers with a warm body if they choose to move other free agents like Anton Belov or Nick Schultz or Corey Potterat the deadline. He has familiarity with Dallas Eakins from time spent with the Marlies, so he should slot in to the Oilers system with relative ease, and his skillset is a nice fit alongside any of Potter, Philip Larsen or Taylor Fedun on that bottom pair.

This is a small trade, but it adds a dimension the Oilers were lacking at the cost of players the team didn't really care about anyway. The player with the most potential to be an NHL difference-maker went to Toronto, but Hartikainen wasn't going to be that guy in Edmonton and the trade market for 'tweeners who want one-way deals isn't as robust as it could be. 

Update - via @Steve_Dangle of Leafs Nation comes this Hockey Night in Canada segment on Fraser:

Additionally, Jeff Veillette - who covered Fraser in person when Fraser played for the AHL's Toronto Marlies - wrote a piece on the trade for Leafs Nation.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Stack Pad Save
January 31 2014, 09:09AM
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Good trade. 2 parts that are never going to play for a 6-8 D-man. This means more trades to come for guys like Potter at the deadline.

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#2 Robert Fraser
January 31 2014, 09:13AM
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@Stack Pad Save

Potter for sure. His injuries are starting to pile up and we need a defenseman who can remain healthy and dependable. I see Potter being expendable.

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#3 Pierre Pretorius
January 31 2014, 09:18AM
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Like this trade because i think Belov cant be the only physical on our team as well with smid playing in Calgary we need some grit back there

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#4 A-Mc
January 31 2014, 09:20AM
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spare parts for something that has a chance at working out on the low end of the D-lines. Not bad. Not earth shattering, but not bad =)

Also: He's from the Marlies so that means Eakins already knows him and can probably get him into the swing of things pretty quickly. It's nice to know what you've got in a player before you actually acquire him. The coach must have had some input here.

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#5 papler
January 31 2014, 09:20AM
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according to Capgeek, Mark Fraser is a UFA next year. So what exactly is the plan with this transaction?

freeing up an additional contract for some trades that are maybe going to happen?

Leafs are wondering why somebody even wanted Fraser in the first place, let alone give something back in the trade...

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#6 Kurri In A Hurri
January 31 2014, 09:22AM
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Hey Jonathan,

How does Fraser compare to Fistric? Is he a better skater?

The deal was definitely necessary and MacT did a good job not giving up much, but it seems like this is making up for not signing Fistric last year.

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#7 freelancer
January 31 2014, 09:25AM
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Nothing special, nothing awful. Like the addition of size but also terrified that MacT is going to sit back and say "well we've successfully changed our blueline."

Find it intriguing that he is a UFA after this season. First Scrivens, now this. Seems like these are players they've had their eye on, and are signing them now to avoid the bidding war come free agency. Could prove to be brilliant or a disaster depending if they re-sign.

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#8 papler
January 31 2014, 09:25AM
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Good point about Fistric. It's almost as MacT read the news about Fistric's new contract and then thought "damn, I want one of those too". Enter Mark Fraser.

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#9 DisappointedFan
January 31 2014, 09:33AM
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@Kurri In A Hurri

Giving up Fistric was one of his worst decisions (not that he's made many) because that was a player who brought the physicality every night and didn't let guys stand near his goalie. Let's hope Mark Fraser brings that same aspect to a severely lacking team.

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#10 Zamboni Driver
January 31 2014, 09:33AM
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Good god.

See? Look at all the trades and stuff we're making. SO many changes!

SO MANY CHANGES

I've been saying for years, the big problem has always been 7-8 D, backup goalies and 4th line forwards.

WHAT ABOUT POTTER??!!What will become of Corey Potter?!

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#11 oilabroad
January 31 2014, 09:34AM
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I think the Fistric signing made him look like a tool. The best team in the league took a player we threw away and signed him to a 3 year extension... I think most Oiler fans wanted him signed but again MacT had his eye on the prize and missed out on the housekeeping he needed to take care of at home. While I am venting, if we are going to go after all of a teams castoffs, why not a good team??

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#12 YEGFan
January 31 2014, 09:37AM
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This gets a -2 from me. We'll see if I'm wrong.

Hartikainen had upside. Mark Fraser has downside.

http://theleafsnation.com/2013/12/13/a-note-on-mark-fraser

People will forget about this move in a month (when Mark Fraser drags Belov, Potter, Larsen, and N Schultz down like a boat anchor tied to an already sinking ship) and continue complaining that the Oilers have no size. MacT will add another few terrible players, simply because of their height and weight, over the summer, they will drag the team down and be flushed out of the NHL, and clueless fans will continue to complain the Oilers are too small and that they need to add big players. Fans will continue to not notice that a huge majority of the team's mistakes over the past years has been adding big players with no skill, and coaching will continue to be blamed for not somehow turning these awful over sized people into NHL talents through sheer coaching will.

The quest for big has been going on for a long time. It's failing and it's killing the Oilers.

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#15 oilabroad
January 31 2014, 09:43AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Okay, let's rein it in with the Mark Fistric love here. He wanted $2 million a year in Edmonton; the Oilers reportedly offered him a three-year/$4.5 million deal and he wouldn't take it.

Anaheim then signed him on the cheap for a year, and recently re-signed him to a deal for less money than the one Edmonton offered.

I simply can't get angry at the Oilers for refusing to pay Fistric $2 million a year. He added a nice element and I always had time for the player, but that's way too much money for the six/seven man on the depth chart.

JW I didn't think they were that far apart at the time... still pissed off, not sure why

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#16 YEGFan
January 31 2014, 09:46AM
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oilabroad wrote:

I think the Fistric signing made him look like a tool. The best team in the league took a player we threw away and signed him to a 3 year extension... I think most Oiler fans wanted him signed but again MacT had his eye on the prize and missed out on the housekeeping he needed to take care of at home. While I am venting, if we are going to go after all of a teams castoffs, why not a good team??

Fistric was not great for us. He could not carry our already weak D and needed time to grow and learn how to do things other than ignore his assignments and go for a big hit. He needed to be sheltered by stronger defensemen like he is in Anaheim. He has some useful skills, but he is not what the Oilers need and that was obvious. The Oilers are in desperate need of top end defensive talent, not 6-7 guys who can fill a niche role on a cup contender.

I am pretty sure he sat around unsigned for a long time last summer. There was no "missed... housekeeping." He proved himself to not be what the Oilers needed to prioritize. His current usefulness would probably not have materialized if he was still an Oiler.

He also was frequently a healthy scratch while here. I don't buy that the decline from last year to this year has anything to do with him.

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#17 Serious Gord
January 31 2014, 09:47AM
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We now go from FOKs being the overarching and only narrative to adding a new acronym FOE.

Being a friend of Eakins seems to be handy on ones CV.

Why don't they just fire the scouting staff. They seem to have little usefulness if connections/friendship with management trumps merit.

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#18 Spydyr
January 31 2014, 09:50AM
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I like that they are adding toughness finally.I don't like they added another 5-6 defencman they already have six of them.

Some toughness with skill in the top six sure would be nice.

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#19 oilabroad
January 31 2014, 09:50AM
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YEGFan wrote:

Fistric was not great for us. He could not carry our already weak D and needed time to grow and learn how to do things other than ignore his assignments and go for a big hit. He needed to be sheltered by stronger defensemen like he is in Anaheim. He has some useful skills, but he is not what the Oilers need and that was obvious. The Oilers are in desperate need of top end defensive talent, not 6-7 guys who can fill a niche role on a cup contender.

I am pretty sure he sat around unsigned for a long time last summer. There was no "missed... housekeeping." He proved himself to not be what the Oilers needed to prioritize. His current usefulness would probably not have materialized if he was still an Oiler.

He also was frequently a healthy scratch while here. I don't buy that the decline from last year to this year has anything to do with him.

While I agree with JW that he was not worth 2M, I disagree with you completely. He was the only 5-7D we had who was holding his head above water, and the scratches were not justified based on the stats... I am too lazy to look it up, but I do remember this being written about by JW and others

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#20 Serious Gord
January 31 2014, 09:51AM
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DisappointedFan wrote:

Giving up Fistric was one of his worst decisions (not that he's made many) because that was a player who brought the physicality every night and didn't let guys stand near his goalie. Let's hope Mark Fraser brings that same aspect to a severely lacking team.

Signing gagner.

Not buying out hemsky.

Not getting a better goalie than dubnyk.

And probably ten others if I cared to take the time...

MacT has made far more mistakes than has made positive moves.

And it shows in the teams standings.

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#21 Taylor Gang
January 31 2014, 09:51AM
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This trade just makes you wonder: why?

Playoffs are out of reach, he's a UFA who probably won't re-sign, and it maybe marginally improves our defense. What happened to no more quick fixes?

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#22 northof51
January 31 2014, 09:54AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Okay, let's rein it in with the Mark Fistric love here. He wanted $2 million a year in Edmonton; the Oilers reportedly offered him a three-year/$4.5 million deal and he wouldn't take it.

Anaheim then signed him on the cheap for a year, and recently re-signed him to a deal for less money than the one Edmonton offered.

I simply can't get angry at the Oilers for refusing to pay Fistric $2 million a year. He added a nice element and I always had time for the player, but that's way too much money for the six/seven man on the depth chart.

First time I can ever recall disagreeing with you, Willis...

Put this deal into perspective and the Oilers could have Fistric and some other really cheap player to replace what's his name from Nashville. We need way more help anywhere on D than we do in our Bottom 6.

The Oilers are a better team with Fistric and a cheaper 3/4 LW crasher than they are with Fraser and Hendricks, all for a similar cash commitment. And you still have a currently 32 year old Hendricks on the payroll through 2017.

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#23 oilslick
January 31 2014, 09:54AM
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@Jonathan Willis

Here,Here!!!!

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#24 2004Z06
January 31 2014, 09:54AM
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Ladies and gentlemen...Your Edmonton Marlies!

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#25 JimW
January 31 2014, 09:55AM
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Apparently the Oilers like to make moves in pairs, so who is next? Nultz, Larsen, Potter, Jones, Gagner, or Hemsky?

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#26 Taylor Gang
January 31 2014, 09:55AM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Signing gagner.

Not buying out hemsky.

Not getting a better goalie than dubnyk.

And probably ten others if I cared to take the time...

MacT has made far more mistakes than has made positive moves.

And it shows in the teams standings.

He agressively pursued Bernier and Schneider, so it's not like he didn't try.

Buying out Hemmer for one season would have been a waste IMO, might as well save it for if we truly need it.

I'd say the Gordon signing was great, the Perron trade was a slam dunk, the Scrivens trade looks okay for now and the Ference deal was neutral.

I don't think it's fair to blame all of our problems on Mac-T.

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#27 YEGFan
January 31 2014, 09:56AM
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oilabroad wrote:

While I agree with JW that he was not worth 2M, I disagree with you completely. He was the only 5-7D we had who was holding his head above water, and the scratches were not justified based on the stats... I am too lazy to look it up, but I do remember this being written about by JW and others

I don't remember much love for Fistric based on anything other than his size. I do remember he received one dubious accolade:

http://oilersnation.com/2013/3/25/the-single-worst-play-by-an-oiler-this-year

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#28 oilabroad
January 31 2014, 09:56AM
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Taylor Gang wrote:

This trade just makes you wonder: why?

Playoffs are out of reach, he's a UFA who probably won't re-sign, and it maybe marginally improves our defense. What happened to no more quick fixes?

I think they are shipping out some bodies soon and he doesn't want to bring up a young one to fill the space... probably the right thing to do

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#29 2004Z06
January 31 2014, 09:57AM
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People were upset when Smid was traded. Well we just replaced him with someone bigger, tougher, meaner and cheaper.

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#30 YEGFan
January 31 2014, 09:58AM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Signing gagner.

Not buying out hemsky.

Not getting a better goalie than dubnyk.

And probably ten others if I cared to take the time...

MacT has made far more mistakes than has made positive moves.

And it shows in the teams standings.

How on earth can you convince yourself one of this team's problems would have been solved by buying out Hemsky?

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#31 TayLordBalls
January 31 2014, 09:59AM
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another brick in the wall

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#32 michael
January 31 2014, 10:00AM
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Stay at home defencemen.Read "Dose not have to cross our blueline". Required to play defence and not be a Cinderella on skates.Oilers get an ugly stepsister to ensure that the housekeeping is taken care of in their on end. I like this deal.He brings size,grit and truculence to a blueline that sorely lacks any of those qualities. We needed to get grittier and MacT has added Hendricks and now Fraser in the past 2 weeks. We needed goaltending. Voila. Scrivens.

For the haters out there who think MacT sits around doing nothing perhaps you should look at how he is shaping this team. The D corps has been so soft.When is the last time one of them stepped up and threw down the gloves? Adding Fraser gives the Oilers a guy who can mix it up and protect guys like Yakupov when Gazdic or Hendricks is not on the ice. Need a couple more of those complimentary guys.

Good trade.TH was done.Abney is a never was.

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#34 Sal-Sational
January 31 2014, 10:05AM
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Im ok with the deal.Our Back End is Kind of looking Big and strong and tough to play against. J.Schultz (6'2) - N.Schultz (6'1) / A.Ference (5'11); Petry (6'3) - Marinčin (6'4); now Belov (6'4) - Fraser (6'4)

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#35 Will
January 31 2014, 10:07AM
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Hmm, I see a lot of fans on here that watch hockey, but maybe don't really follow it. By that I mean anyone on here who thinks they never should have let Mark Fistric walk clearly does not understand that a guy like that is simply not worth the money he wanted. Big checking bottom pairing stay at home defenders are a dime a dozen in this and the AHL. An Nhl team should never be paying more than 1 mill per year for a guy who doesn't contribute offensively.

Fistric aside, I liked Smid, but I don't even think he was worth the money.

Anyone saying Mac T is a bad GM after only a year in the chair is crazy. Compared to Bambi this guy has been great. His expensive moves have paid off (Perron, Gordon). Most have his low risk moves have been good (Gazdic, Belov, Scrivens, Bryz). And the ones that have been bad, well they aren't signed long term for any amount of money so who cares (Macntyre, the other russian defenseman, Larsen). If anything the only questionable one was Ferrence, and really Mac T needed to bring in something and he knew he'd have to overpay to do it.

He is doing exactly what he said he'd do, build a tougher team around our top talent. The guy maybe hasn't yet pulled of a huge block buster, but so far I think he's done way more good than bad, and in a very short amount of time.

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#36 Kenta
January 31 2014, 10:12AM
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I guess the Oilers don't need Giordano now. LOL.

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#37 YEGFan
January 31 2014, 10:12AM
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Sal-Sational wrote:

Im ok with the deal.Our Back End is Kind of looking Big and strong and tough to play against. J.Schultz (6'2) - N.Schultz (6'1) / A.Ference (5'11); Petry (6'3) - Marinčin (6'4); now Belov (6'4) - Fraser (6'4)

Is anybody surprised that the league's worst defense isn't all that small?

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#38 DAVE
January 31 2014, 10:13AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

And while we're at it: if anything, the fact that the Oilers could add a cheaper Fraser for basically nothing graphically demonstrates how silly they would have been to give Fistric $2 million/year.

It would'nt have been basically nothing, if MacT hadn't let Hartikainan get away and signed him to one way deal instead of Joenseu.

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#39 YEGFan
January 31 2014, 10:14AM
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Kenta wrote:

I guess the Oilers don't need Giordano now. LOL.

6'0 200lbs?! Too small. Not what the Oilers need.

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#40 Bloodsweatandoil
January 31 2014, 10:15AM
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Good move.....more size and somebody who doesn't take any sh$t from opponents.

Who knows what the future brings for him, but in the meantime, I will gladly play him over three guys currently on the roster.

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#41 Walter Sobchak
January 31 2014, 10:17AM
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Well, the Oilers might as well just rename the team the Marlies!

Eakins has to be pleased.

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#42 Mikey
January 31 2014, 10:21AM
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Guy look at the facts before you start spouting off about EDM not signing Fistric.

ANA only signed him after Sourary went down for the year. Then he couldn't crack the roster until another injury happened. He has only played 28 games so far, averaging 14min a night.

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#43 JeffG
January 31 2014, 10:26AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Not buying out Hemsky? You're kidding, right?

Unfortunately not.

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#44 Shredder
January 31 2014, 10:26AM
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Bold

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#45 Harry
January 31 2014, 10:28AM
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Taylor Gang wrote:

This trade just makes you wonder: why?

Playoffs are out of reach, he's a UFA who probably won't re-sign, and it maybe marginally improves our defense. What happened to no more quick fixes?

This trade ads very much needed toughness to Edms lineup. MacT is changing the leagues mentality towards playing Edm. Too many times we as fans here that nobody fears playing the Oilers and therefor are not concerned with consequences of taking runs at our top players.

Great job Mac.

Fire Lowe

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#46 Zamboni Driver
January 31 2014, 10:28AM
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The trashes here are more hilarious than anything.

Blind faithers think that this is meaningful.

Trading nothing and less than nothing for another big slow cement head who can't play a lick....

The bridge to nowhere is going just great MacT.

Have your joy that your heroic braintrust is out there working hard to "Improve" things.

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#47 NJ
January 31 2014, 10:31AM
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The signing won't hurt us and freed up a contract.

Re: Fistric love. Quit kidding yourselves. MF is a number 8 d man. If I recall he's played 26 games this year while leading the Ducks In hits. Big tough yes. But only resigned because the cap is going UP. We don't need him here. Why? Because they're everywere.

Case and point? Fraser.

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#48 Czar
January 31 2014, 10:34AM
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The Oilers got a D-man who's willing to drop the mitts for spare parts, what's not to like?

Oiler's get tougher and still everyone complains? Wait until he bitch slaps a Canuck or Flame! Or he steps in when someone's taking liberties with one of the kids,maybe then you might come around.

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#49 Stack Pad Save
January 31 2014, 10:37AM
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YEGFan wrote:

Is anybody surprised that the league's worst defense isn't all that small?

Yah, but they all play like they are 5'2 most of the time. Belov occassionaly throws a hit, but never in front of his own net where it matters the most. Marincin is a bean pole still, the Schultz's are the defense sisters and Petry plays physical only when he knows no one on the other team will push back. The Oilers need a guy in the top 2 who is going to play physical.

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#50 Sal-Sational
January 31 2014, 10:39AM
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YEGFan wrote:

Is anybody surprised that the league's worst defense isn't all that small?

im just saying our team needed a stay at home hard to play against type D-Man.. he's no Matt Greene but he'll do. We still need that #1 guy and i know people would hate the idea but we need a guy like Dion Phaneuf.

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