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.

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

  • 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.

  • Sal-Sational

    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)

      • Sal-Sational

        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.

      • Stack Pad Save

        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.

        • YEGFan

          The most important part of your message is right here: “Belov occassionaly throws a hit, but never in front of his own net where it matters the most.”

          Not all hits are created equal. Physical play has an obvious role in hockey, but it is a means to an end, not important in and of itself.

          If Mark Fraser skates around punching and hitting people while getting lit up with goals and shots all day (which seems likely given his accomplishments so far), he will not help the Oilers.

  • Chainsawz

    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.

  • Word to the Bird

    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

  • Spydyr

    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.

  • Serious Gord

    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.

    • Zarny

      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.

    • Rick Stroppel


      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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • YEGFan

    This gets a -2 from me. We’ll see if I’m wrong.

    Hartikainen had upside. Mark Fraser has downside.


    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.

  • oilabroad

    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??

    • oilersd

      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.

    • YEGFan

      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.

  • Zamboni Driver

    Good god.

    See? Look at all the trades and stuff we’re making. 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?!

  • papler

    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.

  • Kurri In A Hurri

    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.

  • Kurri In A Hurri

    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.

    • oilabroad

      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.

      • Serious Gord

        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.

        • Zarny

          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.

          • Serious Gord

            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.

          • Joe Mamma

            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?

          • Bucknuck

            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.

          • Hemmercules

            The only reason you buy out Hemmer in that situation is if you have a player as good or better coming in. They didn’t have that obviously. Sure they could have just bought him out and hoped they could find another equal player somewhere between the start of the season and the trade deadline but I guess that wasnt a gamble they wanted to take.

            Now they can maybe get something for him at the deadline rather than pay him millions to walk away.

          • Serious Gord

            None other than bill belechik has said that the most important thing in a cap league to have is plenty of cap room during the season. Having it enables one to fill holes due to injury or other unforeseen things but also to have the space to pick up players from other teams under cap space pressure – like Philly was early this season.

            Having lots of cap space would have given the oil much more options. Buying out hemsky didn’t require another move to be done – it should have been done in order to be ready to take advantage of future opportunities.

            Part of the reason why all of MacT’s in-season deals have been such small ball is because he lacks the cap room roster space to make a big ones.

          • Hemmercules

            I see your point. Cap space is always good. I think we might just be on the outside looking in on this one. Maybe Katz didnt want to toss 5 mil in the toilet?? Maybe they decided they might as well keep him seeing how big player moves hardly (if ever) happen before Christmas anyway and they were hoping his value would rise for the deadline so they could get a return on him. If a trade arises and cap room is needed, good GM’s find ways to get the deal done and stay within the cap. I think buyout are for horrible contracts or terrible play, neither of which fit Hemsky.

            I think Mact’s trades have been “small ball” because blockbuster trades don’t happen in the first half of the season very often.

          • YEGFan

            The cap has not hindered the Oilers this season.

            Right now it is Bill Belichick’s “during the season” and the Oilers have plenty of cap flexibility. They are free and clear to fill all the holes caused by injury and unforeseeable circumstances… Mission accomplished!

          • Serious Gord

            I keep getting conflicting interpretations regarding how much space the oil has.

            The rookie bonus issue apparently leaves the oil with very little truly FREE cap space.

            And thus MacT hasn’t and isn’t in line with belechiks strategy.

          • Spydyr

            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.

        • Word to the Bird

          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.

  • papler

    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…

  • A-Mc

    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.

  • Johnnydapunk

    Is this the part where I’m supposed to be all upset by a child using his mommys computer?

    Meh, if you think that, I’m not phased, if you need to say things like that to make yourself feel important or better, fair enough. Things like that make it pretty clear that you weren’t loved enough and can only feel a sense of power hiding behind a keyboard trying to insult other people.

    Whatever floats your boat smallboy 🙂

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    Hey, is that you me? And by me I mean me, not me. Me cares what me thinks. Me is me. Me is not a nobody?……..or is he?….uh I mean me….

  • toprightcorner

    I know I should just ignore you but I cant let you remain under the delusion that you didn’t try to use stats to make your point when the actual stats contradict your argument.

    you wrote “What were Fistric’s stats last year (Points, +/-, Corsi, Fenwick, etc.)? He was an inneffective 6-7 defensemen or worse”

    implying Fitric ranked terrible in these areas and thats why I corrected you in comment 198

    Fistric ranked 2nd in +/- last year, lead defense in Corsi and in hits per game. He also led the team in blocked shots per minute played so Fenwick is irrelevant. In fact his stats show he was an effective bottom pairing defenseman.

    You tried to use these stats to prove Fistric was ineffective where he played, when they actually show the opposite.

    This, my friend, is called MAKING THINGS UP, as you call it. If you want to use stats to make your point at least respect the readers by looking them up first.

    So, I admitted my oversight with Fistrics salary demands as soon as you pointed them out and even corrected that post as to not mislead others.

    You then called me out when I said you made up stats to prove your point and wanted me to quote you, which I did above.

    The question is are you going to be a man and admit it or are you going to run upstairs and cry to Joe Mamma.

    What will you do?

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    Don’t feel too bad….trolling the troll is kind of a hobby of mine…I get a kick out of it…kinda like you do….but in a less serious feel good kinda way.

  • You also neglected clear information and evidence that made your “clear and concise” points incorrect. So I’m not sure how exactly you can get that as a take away from the discussion but sure, you’re absolutely correct, can’t fix stupid.

    Sorry I didn’t know my “ill-fated” attempts were perceived as being gibberish, I can send an English tutor your way so you can better understand and comprehend the language for future conversations.

    Says the certified comedian by trade?

  • toprightcorner

    my bad Joe Mamma, I missed 1 comment out of 200, and I agree $2 mill was too much for Fistric if that is what he was asking for.

    I wasn’t aware that me missing one comment was so much worse than making up stats, to support your case when the actual stats disproves your point.

    I guess I will try to be more like you and make stuff up to prove my point.

  • Joe Mamma

    Using the jokes just made on you against the guy who made the joke, such wow.

    Please tell me more about how you actually read the comments in our discussion and actually made a “contribution” to it without hoping on the crack pipe joke train.

    At least you sort of established one clear agreement that he’s better than two bad signings made.

  • toprightcorner

    It’s mighty open-minded of you to believe that everyone who disagrees with you is on crack! Insecure much?

    So you want to know where the Oilers finished in the standings with Fistric in the line-up…….um….same place the did with Hall, Ebs and Nuge in the lineup. great point! So where in the standings is Anaheim with Fistric in the line up?

    How about you look at the actual stats before you berate a players ability with them here are Fistrics stats for last year you used.

    +/- – second on the team at +6

    Corsi – best of the defensemen

    hits – highest hits per game on team

    Those stats that you brought up completely contradict your point, good job.

    Fistric may not have had any offensive upside but it would be safe to assume that the grit, size and physical play he brought as a 6/7 guy would have helped considerably over softies like Grebs and Potter.

    I didn’t understand why MacT didn’t resign Fistric but if he wanted $2 mill I get it. Too bad he didn’t replace that role on the team earlier but now he sees the hole and is trying to fix it 4 months later. If Fraser can be a Fistric type player, he will help the team a lot who sorely miss that type of player on the back end.

  • Spydyr

    Sorry, but when someone references Corsi or Fenwick, you lose credibility in your argument entirely. Those are poor representatives of a players performance, and hardly tell how a guy is playing especially defensemen (who on Edmonton never look good in Corsi). But since we’re on the topic, he had a +6 rating in Edmonton and +8 rating in Anaheim. Since we’re looking at “helping the team” he had 6 assists and was +6 for the Oilers while Nick Schultz was -13 and had 1g 8a. So if you want to go by your “effectiveness” rating scale, Mark Fistric looks a lot better than Nick Schultz does.

    Sorry but your feelings towards his “selfish play” can be said about most players, let’s look at all the times Justin Schultz pinches or moves up to the slot for a shot putting himself far out of position blows it and the other team goes down and scores or gets a break away, he does it every game. Or Jeff Petrys soft play on the puck EVERY game where he gives it away in our own zone, or because he doesn’t stand in position or cover guys in front of his net. Or we could talk about Potter deflecting every shot into our own net. Or we could talk about how a rookie prospect is the best looking defender on the team who wasn’t even supposed to play on the Oilers this year.

    Reducing your argument to petty attempts at telling me to “put down the crack pipe” or “man crush” prove just how little strengthen your argument is.

  • northof51

    Just didn’t want you going out there into the world thinking it was a circle argument or a “Pre-Madonna” (as opposed to the “Prima donna” which is correct) and looking uneducated to your friends.

  • northof51

    Well I guess there’s a reason neither of us is getting paid to manage the team.

    It’s a circular argument by the way, a circle argument is one about…well a circle.

    So people don’t agree with my statements, I didn’t know this was about who can get the most popular replies? Is there some sort of prize for getting the most props?

  • Zarny

    They also state that those are loose numbers they use for reference but hardly tell the story. Are you the same person preaching Hall is on the down slide? Just laughable. Corsi and Fenwick on defense are terrible measures of performance and fairly bad estimates on forwards. Plain and simple.

    Another cheap shot attempt at saying I’m dumb, good to know you can find the facts and numbers to back up your claims at “hockey analytics”.

    I believe your entire comment is a “beautifully” written example of irony to the nth degree. Congratulations.

  • Zarny

    No, actually someone doesn’t lose credibility in their argument entirely by referencing Corsi or Fenwick.

    Some of the top minds in hockey use analytics. The fact they confuse you doesn’t make them irrelevant.

    Reducing your argument to “anyone who mentions something is irrelevant” actually make you completely irrelevant.