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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#4 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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#5 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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#6 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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#7 Robin Brownlee
January 31 2014, 05:35PM
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"Joe Mamma" and "me": I've deleted most of the comments in the back-and-forth internet purse fight you've been treating everybody to.

Post any more of it and an IP ban is next.

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#8 Joe Mamma
January 31 2014, 11:01AM
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This is a perfect example of not being able to please all of the people all of the time. This was a solid hockey move that cost us nothing guys. We traded a failing prospect and an overated one unwilling to accept his lot in life, for a roster player that fills a need. The vortex of negativity in this town is unstoppable, and getting old. Is this the big move we need? No. But it's still a good pickup.

Sometimes I think Oiler fans could do well to remember that the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. We all agree that there are a multitude of issues with this club. Well, one of them was a lack of big, rugged, stay at home type dmen in the rotation. This is a good start to addressing it.

MacT has been VERY active, most of his pickups have been solid, and I doubt he's done. I'll take that over Mr. Dithers any day. I was pretty dubious when they announced him as GM, but he is definitely winning me over.

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#9 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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#10 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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#11 Zarny
January 31 2014, 10:44AM
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Serious Gord wrote:

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.

Good grief, get a grip.

You're the poster child for fans who have completely wet their pants this year.

Fraser played a whopping 50 games over 2 seasons with the Marlies. He and Eakins are no doubt BFF's.

Or more likely, the Oilers went after a player people in their organization have worked with in person.

Which pretty much every team in the entire NHL does.

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#12 Hemmercules
January 31 2014, 11:03AM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

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.

I don't understand the MacT hate. The guy took on a last place team of smurfs 6 months ago from a passive GM. He added Ference, Gordon, Perron, Scrivens, Brysgalov, Belov, Hendricks and now Fraser. Tried to get Bernier, Schneider, Clarkson and probably others in trade attempts we never heard about. He shipped out some underachievers in Duby, Paajarvi and Smid.

The guy is active, more so than most GM's out there as far as I can see. Not all moves will be great, not all will work out, but the guy is trying.

I seems to me a lot of people think its as easy as calling up GM's and demanding they trade their great players to us for our junk. Not gonna happen.

I want playoffs next year as much as anyone but it likely wont happen that fast. Tambloweini's team will take time to correct and I think MacT has the potential to do it.

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#13 2004Z06
January 31 2014, 09:54AM
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Ladies and gentlemen...Your Edmonton Marlies!

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#14 Eddie Shore
January 31 2014, 12:11PM
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"Hartikainen is a pest with limitless energy and a willingness to hit everything in sight, with some ability to contribute offensively" from Leafsnation.

That is not the Hartikainen I watched...

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#15 Zarny
January 31 2014, 10:53AM
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Good trade.

Certainly not a bold move, but Hartikainen wasn't in the long term plans and MacT gets rid of Abney's contract.

Fraser is a big body D who has played well in TO at times. The Oilers get 26 games to see how he looks and if he's part of the solution.

If he is...great. If he's not...oh well...we didn't really give up anything to see. Zero risk.

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#16 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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#18 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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#19 Bucknuck
January 31 2014, 11:38AM
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There was once this player that really hadn't done much at the NHL level. He was a big bodied tough as nails defenceman that was past his prospect due date (26 yrs old). He played for Toronto, and his skating was suspect and no one was expecting much.

Jason Smith was his name.

Now I am not saying this guy is Jason Smith, I'm just saying that a tough as nails all heart defenceman is something this team needs, and you never know what can happen when a player gets a new start.

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#20 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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#21 2004Z06
January 31 2014, 12:15PM
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Hilarious. People bitch Gagner is an overpay, Ference is an overpay, Hendricks is an over pay and in the same breath say that Fistric would have been an acceptable overpay at 2 mil?

Put down the bong!

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#22 Bucknuck
January 31 2014, 01:36PM
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I agree with the notion that the Oilers need to add a top pairing Defenseman. Until they do, they will be on the outside looking in.

That said, i do like the direction MacT has been heading with his personnel moves. Perron, Hendricks, Gazdic, Fraser, Ference, and Gordon are all hard to play against.

The experiments are all on one year deals: Grebby, Belov, Scrivens and Bryzgalov. If any of them work out it's a bonus, if not they are gone.

I've been impressed.

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#23 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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#24 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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#25 Zarny
January 31 2014, 11:04AM
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DisappointedFan wrote:

Okay, as nice as it all sounds. Having Fistric from game one would have been miles better than having Mark Fraser at game 57. Regardless of cap hit, the Oilers took a huge standings hit by not having someone who can finish checks and play hockey. Grebeshkov, didn't work. Corey Potter, didn't work. Anton Belov, didn't work. Andrew Ference, is doing what he was brought to do but doesn't punish players with his checks.

He can tell me his cap hit was too high all you want on paper, but when he played he brought physicality that the Oilers did not have for the last 56 games.

Maybe he's paid a bit high...what else is new for the Oilers...they over pay players to carry the pucks to the ice for morning skate that do nothing else.

Sorry but having Fistric from game one would not have been miles better.

They had him last year and finished 24th.

For $2 million per year the only answer you give Mark Fistric is "get lost".

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#26 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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#28 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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#29 Bucknuck
January 31 2014, 12:01PM
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Joe Mamma wrote:

Sorry Gord, when you're in a hole, stop digging. Buying out a legit NHL forward with no replacement, for no reason other than to get him off the roster is brainless.

I agree with you that the Gagner extension and Grebs signing were legit errors on MacT's part, but this Hemsky argument is a stupid one. Frankly it just looks like you're trolling for an argument. Which you likely are.

Even a world-class cynic like yourself has got to admit that MacT has made some pretty decent moves this year, and has easily blown Tambo out of the water in 9 months on the job.

Maybe, just once, you could skip the grumpy pills with breakfast?

I've never understood the "buying out Hemsky" argument. There was no reason to do so. His contract is gone after this season, and he will have some value at the deadline, and the guy has scored some nice goals this year.

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#30 james_dean
January 31 2014, 12:26PM
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Serious gord is an idiot.

boot this douche from this great site

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#31 meh...
January 31 2014, 11:02AM
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Not earth shattering but a decent move. Replace a soft 6-7 defenceman with a meaner 6-7 defenceman. You want more size and grit, you're getting more size and grit.

You want Bobby Orr for Hemsky and a 3rd rounder you're dreaming...

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#32 Robin Brownlee
January 31 2014, 07:15PM
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Quick note:

"me": you not only didn't take the hint, you posted as "brownlee." You're done here -- no matter what name you choose to use.

"Joe Mamma": If you lost an unrelated comment while I was wasting a part of my day deleting your spat with "me/brownlee," too bad. It wasn't intentional, but that's how it goes.

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#33 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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#34 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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#35 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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#36 Zarny
January 31 2014, 11:07AM
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gcw_rocks wrote:

What a joke. Yes, this is exactly what the team needs - more bottom pairing defencemen. Because Belov, Grebs, Larsen, Schultz Sr., Schultz Jr., Fedun and Klefbom aren't enough.

If I am Fedun, I am thinking "WTF?" I doubt we see Fedun in Edmonton for any material amount of time after this trade, if at all.

Actually if you're Fedun, you're thinking "great maybe Fraser will be able to knock ginormous centers like Getzlaf and Thornton off the puck...because I certainly can't do it."

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#38 oilersd
January 31 2014, 10:48AM
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@oilabroad

Fistric wanted 2 mil to sign with oilers. Ducks got him for 900 000. Third pairing dmen are not that hard to come by as evidenced by the current crop of oilers d. This move is strategy for a later deal IMO.

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#39 gcw_rocks
January 31 2014, 10:58AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

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

Buying out Hemsky if no trade was available would have made sense if the team was looking to add Grabovski and one of Hainsey or Gilbert and needed cap space.

Buying Hemsky out for the sake of buying Hemsky out makes no sense.

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#40 Joe Mamma
January 31 2014, 11:34AM
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Serious Gord wrote:

As I have written before, there is only one buyout remaining under this cba. As the most critical cap crunch was this year, exercising the buyout this last summer would have been far more beneficial than using it this coming summer. That freed up salary and roster spot could have been used to pick up a long-term solution from a cap-strapped team (Philadelphia perhaps). Hemsky was on MacT's disposal list. Because he couldn't trade/deal him away he should have done the next best thing and bought him out.

Sorry Gord, when you're in a hole, stop digging. Buying out a legit NHL forward with no replacement, for no reason other than to get him off the roster is brainless.

I agree with you that the Gagner extension and Grebs signing were legit errors on MacT's part, but this Hemsky argument is a stupid one. Frankly it just looks like you're trolling for an argument. Which you likely are.

Even a world-class cynic like yourself has got to admit that MacT has made some pretty decent moves this year, and has easily blown Tambo out of the water in 9 months on the job.

Maybe, just once, you could skip the grumpy pills with breakfast?

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#41 DisappointedFan
January 31 2014, 10:41AM
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@Serious Gord

He made some good, he made some bad, he plugged some holes, and he left some open.

This ship is at the bottom of the Pacific and he's trying to send a dive team down to try and salvage the remains.

If he can at least take a few lessons from this first maiden voyage it should be that you don't go sailing through the open waters without the proper people in place to keep your boat above the water.

And always bring Scrivens to a Sharknado.

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#42 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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#43 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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#44 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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#45 **
January 31 2014, 10:48AM
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Serious Gord wrote:

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.

For what it's worth both Ryan Hamilton and Acton Jr. are buried in the minors.

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#46 Rocknrolla
January 31 2014, 11:06AM
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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.

Plus Fraser actually fights! I like it...we gave up nothing and can try out a potential piece to add toughness. 25 games and see what his injuries are like.

Also with Hendricks out, it's nice to have some more toughness. 15 mins more a night.

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#48 Naky
January 31 2014, 05:33PM
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To all those saying that the Oilers gave up on Harti, allow me to ask why it is that you feel free to assume that the Oilers didn't have discussions with Teemu's agent and/or the player himself throughout the year to get a feel of his mindset of playing for the Oilers in the future? Perhaps he wanted to move on. If that's the case, the asset's gone sour and it's best to move him for a decent return before it goes public.

So in other words, stop assuming that the Oilers didn't do their best to convince him and consider that maybe it was the player himself that had no intentions of coming back. Until we know otherwise, it's just as valid a consideration as the opposite.

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

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#50 Spydyr
January 31 2014, 10:53AM
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I never was a big Mac-T fan but now he seems to be moving the team in a direction I am fond of.

Rome was not built in a day.If Mac-T can address goaltending, a top pairing defencman and some toughness with skill in the top six the team should start moving forward.

The upcoming trade deadline and this summer will be the time to restructure the team into one not so easy to play against.

Getting the top defencman will come with a dear cost but IMO it is time to make some difficult decisions.

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