TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that the Oilers have added some size to their blue line, adding Mark Fraser from Toronto.
Oilers acquire Mark Fraser from Leafs for Cam Abner and Hartikainen.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) January 31, 2014
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).
Abney needed to be included in the deal so the Oilers could stay at 48 contracts.
— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) January 31, 2014
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.
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.