In his first 10 games as an Edmonton Oiler, Matt Fraser has a pair of goals and four points. Over a full season, that kind of production might earn him a regular spot on the roster and an NHL future. I think we’ve seen enough of Fraser to know the positives and negatives of the player and to recognize there are some issues and strengths. Is there enough there?
Matt Fraser is legit- you don’t score almost 90 goals in 2+quarter seasons w/o skill, but he goes stretches w/o being noticed b4 cashing in
— Kirk Luedeke (@kluedeke29) December 8, 2013
Kirk was discussing Fraser’s AHL goal-scoring ability and those boxcars were going to get noticed by every NHL team. Fraser was part of the payment by the Dallas Stars to Boston for Tyler Seguin and Edmonton’s waiver claim came after a period of not getting noticed in a Bruins uniform.
|BOXCARS||CORSI FOR 5X5||5X5/60||5X4/60||ZONESTART|
He’s played mostly with Anton Lander among forwards since arrival (these are his complete season numbers, BTN and HA don’t break them down—or at least I can’t find them—by team) and of course these numbers come from far less than a full season’s worth of ice time. Still, I think we can see there’s some offensive promise here and he does offer a specific item of exceptional value—he’s a first-shot scorer—so it’s a matter of giving him 55o at-bats over an entire season to see what he can do.
Well, it’s complicated. The Oilers have several wingers who are in offensive spots in the batting order and not delivering enough offense. If we can agree that Hall—Eberle and Pouliot—Purcell are delivering enough for us to consider them to be ‘incumbents’ for skill spots, then it’s up to Fraser (and young Nail Yakupov) to force their way up the depth chart. I’m not sure either will be able to do it in the season’s final half and I’m absolutely certain Nail will get more chances.
Does Matt Fraser deserve more chances than some of the AHL kids? How would we know? Well, we can never know completely but we have AHL stats for all suspects and can measure things like shots-per-game and shooting percentage to see how everyone looks.
SELECTED BARONS COMPARED TO FRASER, RECENT SEASONS
|PLAYER, YEAR||SHOTS/GAMES||SHOTS PER GAME||SHOOTING %|
|MATT FRASER 2011-12||253/73||3.47||14.62|
|IIRO PAKARINEN 2014-15||119/37||3.21||14.29|
|MATT FRASER 2012-13||182/62||2.94||18.12|
|MATT FRASER 2013-14||122/44||2.77||16.39|
|ANTON LANDER 2013-14||120/46||2.61||15.00|
|TYLER PITLICK 2014-15||36/14||2.57||8.33|
|TYLER PITLICK 2013-14||100/39||2.56||8.00|
|ROMAN HORAK 2013-14||165/66||2.50||13.94|
|ANDREW MILLER 2014-15||88/41||2.14||17.05|
|BOGDAN YAKIMOV 2014-15||78/38||2.05||7.69|
|CURTIS HAMILTON 2014-15||58/37||1.56||13.79|
Fraser is definitely the class of the group but a half season of Iiro Pakarinen shows he’s in the range (or will be if he can sustain for the rest of the season). This also shows that Tyler Pitlick—despite some impressive shot totals—has a history of being a low-event shooter and that’s going to be an issue for him (as we’ve discussed at length). Interesting too to see Lander and Horak and where they rank and Yakimov is perhaps a slight surprise in getting over 2 shots per game (but his shooting % isn’t a positive).
I think the Oilers have a strong candidate to replace Fraser in Iiro Pakarinen and would also like to see Roman Horak again sometime down the line. For me, the rest of this season trying out Fraser/Pakarinen is probably the right thing to do. If we’re talking about Pitlick or Curtis Hamilton, I think a checking role is their only route to the NHL and Andrew Miller needs to shoot more and one suspects he’s riding some luck this season (8% last season).