Oilers acquire Mark Fraser from Toronto

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.

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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

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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:

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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


  • 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.

    • YEGFan

      I can’t agree more or prop this enough. I am so sick of hearing about Fistric.

      News flash people: HE DIDN’T WANT TO PLAY HERE.

      Fistric is a marginal 6-7 dman, who badly priced himself out from playing here. He was willing to sign with a good team for half the money he demanded from Edmonton.

    • northof51

      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.

    • Rocknrolla

      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.

    • Rick Stroppel

      CANNOT HAVE IT BOTH WAYS

      On January 21 Lowetide posted an article here which included an elaborate stats -based argument that the Oilers should bring back Hartikainen next year.

      Today Mr. Willis says that the Oilers got Mark Fraser for “basically nothing” which means that Hartikainen is “basically nothing”.

      One of you guys must be dead wrong.

      Or maybe those complicated stats can be used to build up or tear down virtually any player.

  • Hemmercules

    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.

    • Chainsawz

      The only reason I trashed this comment is because you compared Tambellini to MacTavish. So what? A brick with a dunce cap could manage a team better. Doesn’t make that brick a good manager.

      MacTavish has been busy but let’s not confuse busy with productive. This is still a basement team.

  • Joe Mamma

    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.

    • Joe Mamma

      Completely agree. Moreover, this might just be kind of a Manager deal. I can maybe see Nonis calling up MacT and saying hey, we need to offload some salary, we can take contracts back in return. Edmonton gets another bottom pairing guy at zero risk, and the Leafs maybe get enough cap room to either get something at the deadline, or get what’s his name off injured reserve.

      Fraser somehow in 48 games last year had 8 points and was plus 18. That is crazy. Who was he playing with on the leafs of all teams to have plus 18 in 46 games played? If that’s the type of stay at home guy we are getting and can sign for reasonable dollars (see not Mark Fistric), that’s great.

      Oilers needed a veteran stay at home number 5/6 guy who shoot left to play with our more offensive guys. I wanted Orpik to play on the second pairing with J Schultz, but who knows.

      Finally, for everyone wondering about Fedune, or this guy or that guy, well Fraser is a UFA at year’s end so it’s yet another no risk move for a bottom pairing guy. Either he plays good and we might resign him, or he doesn’t and we don’t.

  • Czar

    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.

    • Rocknrolla

      I agree, not having a tough d-man on the ice has hurt us. The nice thing about tough D is that they are on the ice while the kids are out there.

      How often is Gazdic out with Hall or Yak?

      I remember saying when we had Andy Sutton that it was nice to have him there with the kids, and since losing him and Fistric, there was no real toughness on the D. Petry or Belov are not gonna go protect our kids. This guy will.

      Me likey.

      • Czar

        I’m with ya dude! Like him or not, Sutton kept the other team honest. Whether it was his size or elbows who cares, we missed that big time in our line up.

        @michael. 2 thumbs up!

          • Spydyr

            At first I did not like the team picking up Hendricks .Due to his contract and age. Now having watched him play here I stand corrected.He brings a positive energy on the ice,bench and although we cannot see I’m guessing the dressing room too.Along with his work effort and take no crap attitude Mac-T appears to have made a good move here.

            He has addressed a need on the team and filled it.Let us hope he can do the same with some bigger needs at the deadline and this summer.

          • 2004Z06

            I knew you would come around. Ha ha. As for his contract, I am fine with it. Currently, 900k to 2 mil is the going rate for a 3/4th liner. In 2 years, his cap hit will be the league minimum.

            It really isn’t and won’t be an issue. Any player that injects a little grit and energy into the team is worth a bit of extra cash in my books. The Oilers have all played like they are 3 inches taller lately. I don’t think it is merely a coincidence.

      • YEGFan

        No, he won’t. “Protection” is a myth. No tough guy on any other team is scared of other tough guys. They all skate around “doing their jobs” by not being afraid of anyone else. They do not get intimidated by each other and they are all more than happy to lay a big hit on a star if they think they can get away with it and avoid a huge suspension and loss of income. Fortunately, they don’t go out on the ice with the stars frequently because they get lit up so badly that the possible benefit of hitting a star is out weighed by number of goals it costs the team.

        Putting assets and energy into acquiring tough or gritty players who aren’t skilled is what is hurting this team most. The team is at the bottom of the league, get it through your head, no amount of tinkering with the 4th line or the bottom defense pairing is going to have any meaningful effect on this team’s position in the standings.

        • Joe Mamma

          And the loss of which “asset” in this trade has you upset? Hartikainen in the KHL, or “who the hell is Cam Abney”, because I don’t think either of those players are going to come back and haunt the Oilers with their brilliant future.

          • YEGFan

            Hartikainen. Cam Abney is exactly the sort of draft pick I’m complaining about.

            I know the Finn was looking pretty unexciting last year, but his performance in the KHL sounds like he has been taking major steps forward. It is still entirely possible (I am saying possible, not likely) he turns into a winger that can move up and down the line up. That is not “nothing.” He could have actually been a useful player for the Oilers to have.

            Mark Fraser looks like he will actually make the Oilers worse under the guise of making them tougher.

            Ultimately I agree, this trade is probably inconsequential. I decided to fight this fight because so many people keep talking about toughness as if it’s a valuable commodity in and of itself, when it is not.

            The toughness philosophy has been the organization’s MO for years. They keep getting tough players with glimmers of competence who just never pan out and cost the team goals. Everybody quickly forgets, notices that the team lacks competent tough players, and screams that they need to go out and get them. Rather than getting a player who is having success and driving possession they go out and get another tough guy who isn’t. The tough guy doesn’t get better and instead gets super exposed because he can’t make up for the overwhelming inexperience elsewhere in the line up (mostly defense right now), and it all repeats itself.

    • Zarny

      Exactly my thought. Sure I want to see Klefbom play. Or Fedun. But they are better off in OKC right now than in Edmonton. We’ll see what deadwood/defencemen MacT can unload/rid himself of at the trade deadline and then make a decision as to who should be recalled.

      Till then Eakins has another option that he can use in games when he needs more beef than chicken in the lineup. That you Harry Potter. Remember Philly last season and turning down Hartnell for a dance.

      I do not expect J.Shultz to drop the gloves and ruin that Covergirl face. But sure as heck I expected Belov to bring more grit this year than he has shown. Marincin is still a kid. He is playing well and for what he is I am delighted with the results. N.Shultz is a disaster. Larsen is so soft. Petry. Lots of skill but he scares not one single opponent with his play.Ferenve brings a complete game and were he 3 inches taller and 30 lbs heavier he would be ideal. For what he brings though I have no qualms with his game.

      I would like the Oilers to find another grit guy for their 4th line. JJ just does not bring that dimension to hs game. He brings size and skill. But grit? I don’t see that as part of his game and that is why he is a tweener.

      Good job MacT

  • Eddie Shore

    “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…

  • Zarny

    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.