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.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, 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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#301 Naky
January 31 2014, 11:44PM
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@Manfly

Hey look, Harti's a decent player and proven all he could prove at the AHL level and he's doing well in the KHL. In his call ups with the Oilers in the NHL, he couldn't get it done. Just another player with all the tools in the box and no willingness to use them all. That doesn't mean he'll never figure it out but I think he's soured on the organization and all the losing. He's young and proud and eventually he'll figure out that other organizations are going to be wanting him to use all those tools too. That's when he'll either become a better pro or he'll be going back to europe and for good this time.

All that being said, again, if he's gone sour it's best to move him now for a player this team could use now. Is Fraser a bit of a reclaimation project at this point? It's possible, with the injuries he went through. Is it fair trade value potential vs potential? At face value, no, but Fraser has a set of skills that this team doesn't have right now and a willingness to use them whereas Harti has a set of skills that this team doesn't have right now and absolutely no willingness to use them. At least, not with the Oilers. I'd rather have a player that can play in the NHL than another prospect that might never fully make it up from OKC in return for Harti and let's face it, that's all we were going to get for a guy like him. A bottom pairing d-man, an okay prospect, or a middling draft pick.

With Edmonton's blueline, I'll take the bottom pairing dman with a skill set we don't have right now.

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#302 Bucknuck
February 01 2014, 12:03AM
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KSC10032 wrote:

A decent analogy, although only time will tell just how much upside young Fraser will eventually display.

The same circumstances -- almost exactly -- also apply to the acquisition of one Craig Muni, who was also a Leafs castoff.

Luke Richardson was also a leafs cast off, though he was in his early 20's when the Oil acquired him. same kind of player.

I see a trend.

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#303 Bucknuck
February 01 2014, 12:09AM
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The Last Big Bear wrote:

Correction: He took on a *23rd place* team of smurfs 6 months ago, and they have become the worst in the league since then.

worst in the league? Sorry man, that honour is bestowed upon the mighty Sabres of Buffalo. I still have hope the Oil will finish higher than the flames (and then win the draft lottery anyways). I am curious what happens down the stretch.

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#304 pkam
February 01 2014, 02:51AM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

So correct me if I'm wrong here.

MacT lets Fistric walk, then re-aquires a worse version of him in exchange for the rights to Hartikainen + for 25 or so games?

This is considered ok?

Regarding Fistric, what is MacT supposed to do other than let him walk? Sign him to 3 years at 2M? This is what happen when you can't agree with the contract term with a UFA. Fistric is no different than any other UFA, like Iglina. If you are not interested in him, don't talk to him. If you are interested, you try to sign him to a contract you think is reasonable to you. If you can't sign him to a contract you think is reasonable to you, then you move on to the next one. How complicate is it?

You think Fraser is worse, obviously MacT thinks otherwise. Fraser not only will hit, he will drop the groves and stand up for his teammates. How many time did Fistric drop the gloves to protect his kids? If you have to choose between Mike Brown and Fraser, who would you rather have? Both the Oilers and the Sharks have to give a 4th rounder to get Mike Brown, do you think any team will give a 4th rounder for Fistric?

I am not sure what the right to Hartikainen will get us. What did we get for Omark? futher consideration, inw, a 6th/7th rounder. This summer MacT release Toni Rajala to Europe. I was quite upset because although Rajala is small, he, imo, is our best forward in OKC. If MacT can let Rajalo go, it is just a matter of time that we will do the same to Hartikainen. Since he is not part of our plan, therefore the roster spot has more value to MacT than his right.

I was never a fan of either player so I am totally okay with it. Perhaps you are a fan of those 2 players, or MacT hater?

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#305 Cynic
February 01 2014, 03:28AM
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Josh Oiler sounds like Bob Evans as written by Drew Magary on Deadspin.

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#306 Spydyr
February 01 2014, 06:13AM
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Lawndemon wrote:

You know your team is bad when a blog post about the Oilers acquiring a press box castaway from the Leafs generates 295 posts debating the merit of the addition.

What would happen here if MacT actually made a significant move?

We would be shocked into silence.

Who am I kidding, this place would be crazy. Guys would be challenging other guys to meet by the bike racks after school.

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#307 pkam
February 01 2014, 02:08PM
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camdog wrote:

I'd take Brown over Fraser. Oilers traded a third rounder for Fistric. Not sure what you are saying about the organization that traded a third for a guy you state nobody would trade a 4th for?

How many minutes does Brown play per game? 5? The only reason he is iced is to stand up for his teammate and fight. Fraser will do the same and play the #6 D. But before Fraser even plays one game for us, you already like Brown more. What else can I say?

What I think about the trade for Fistric, never like the trade for Fistric and Smithson.

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#308 nick
February 01 2014, 04:08PM
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What a stupid organization the Oilers are. They are now going out and getting all of Eakins Marlie players so they at least like the coach. It's ridiculous, MacTavish won't fire a bad coach so he just goes out and gets guys that talk nice about Eakins. Well done. On pace for the worst season ever 4 years into a revuild. Sickening

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#309 camdog
February 02 2014, 09:14AM
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pkam wrote:

How many minutes does Brown play per game? 5? The only reason he is iced is to stand up for his teammate and fight. Fraser will do the same and play the #6 D. But before Fraser even plays one game for us, you already like Brown more. What else can I say?

What I think about the trade for Fistric, never like the trade for Fistric and Smithson.

I watched them both play in Toronto. Suffice to say I don't expect them to change the player they are now that they are here in Edmonton? Fraser will bring some nastiness, both in terms of physically and his below average skill set.

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