MARK FRASER: IT’S ABOUT GRIFFIN

During the early hours of free agency, the Edmonton Oilers signed Mark Fraser. I have been meaning to get back to it, because there are all kinds of curious things surrounding the addition.

  • Fraser contract: $575,000 NHL; $175,000 AHL; $225,000 guaranteed. (Bob Stauffer)

That tells me there is a chance we see Fraser for a small period of time in the NHL, but the depth chart does not favor him playing a lot in Edmonton. So, with that understood (please let me know if you have another theory), it would seem to me Fraser has been hired in a mentor role—to help the farm kids in areas of strength for this player and weakness for the team.

THE HOCKEY NEWS SCOUTING REPORT

  • Assets: Has good size (6.04, 220), decent mobility, and the ability to play a physical game from the back end. Source

If we can agree that Fraser is going to play in the AHL (reasonable) and mentor the yutes, then I believe at least part of the reason will be adding a mean streak and a physical element.

reinhart tc1 capture

One of the reasons Edmonton sent Griffin Reinhart down last season? Consistency and bringing the physical element.

Gerry Fleming, Condors coach: “We’ve addressed it with him and he’s aware of it. He knows he has to get better and he’s focused on those areas in his game. There’s things we’ve asked him to work on and it starts with practice. We’ve seen improvement in his practice habits. He’s committed himself to coming down here and working better. His attitude has been great.” Source

musil williams 2

David Musil photo courtesy Mark Williams

Contrast the Fleming verbal with what we read about David Musil from the same source:

Gerry Fleming, Condors Coach: “He’s been our number-one shutdown guy and been great on the penalty kill. We use him in all situations, we use him late in the game when we’re up a goal, and he’s responded well. The biggest thing is when you don’t notice Dave during a game, you know he’s had a good game. He reads the play offensively as well. A lot of people underestimate his value in that area but he jumps in at the right times. He activates at the offensive blue line at the right times, he’s been getting pucks down to the net a lot better, and creating offensive chances for himself. But his specialty, obviously, is as a shutdown guy and he’s done a good job at that. We’d like to see him get an opportunity but that’s out of his control. All he can control is the way he plays down here. At times it’s been a little frustrating for him. We’ve had a few talks and he’d like to get an opportunity but you can’t worry about whether or not you’re going to get an opportunity. You have to worry about the things you can control in your game.” Source

simpson williams 1

Dillon Simpson photo by Mark Williams

  • Gerry Fleming: “Dillon Simpson, I thought overall, was probably our most consistent d-man all year long. I don’t know where to begin. There’s so many improvements in his game that have happened not only this year but last year as well. He doesn’t make many mistakes. He’s low maintenance, he’s a good leader and he assumed that responsibility this year. I think more time for Dillon and hopefully he gets some games up and down next year to see where he’s at. He was great for us all year long.” Source

laleggia capture 3

  • Gerry Fleming: “I think Joey got better as the year went on. He’s a good player with the puck, but he expanded on that. He was walking the line a little bit more, he had more poise with the puck and his defensive game got better and better. There’s still areas in his defensive game, because he’s a little bit of a smaller guy he’s got to get a little bit stronger but overall we liked his progression and like where he’s at right now.” Source

I THINK FRASER IS HERE FOR REINHART

  • Gerry Fleming: “Griff, when he came back, I thought he played a lot heavier. There was times we’d show him the importance of that aspect of his game and being consistent with it. I thought when he came down he played a lot more physical.” Source

Reinhart would have been sent down late November and then recalled in late January. It was during that time the quote above (from Scott Zerr) mentioned physical play. This second quote frames the issue very well.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Hey, we are just talking here. It is mid-summer and everyone has a chance in training camp. That said, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear about Fraser helping out Reinhart with his physical game. Why do I feel this way?

Mark Fraser was hired for a reason. I cannot think of another reason he would have been hired. It’s about Griffin.

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42 Responses to "MARK FRASER: IT’S ABOUT GRIFFIN"

  1. stevezie says:

    They’re probably being graded on a different curve, but purely off those quotes the smart money would be Musil over Reinhart. Probably Simpson too.

  2. Hockey Project says:

    ” he had more poise with the puck”

    If that quote came across Steve Tambellini’s desk, Laleggia would have found himself playing 25 NHL minutes per night.

  3. Concur says:

    The quotes show us a better view of the players. And when they are recalled by draft pedigree you know something is wrong in management. They should stop looking at ‘potential’ and instead look at what they have now.

  4. sliderule says:

    Fleming benched Marincin when he was sent down for playoffs.

    The OKC play by play commentator blistered Marincin when he “bailed “on a neutral zone clear out in same playoffs.

    Marincin was benched after that.

    Fleming is from the eat raw meat hockey pool.

  5. Lowetide says:

    sliderule:
    Fleming benched Marincin when he was sent down for playoffs.

    The OKC play by play commentator blistered Marincin when he “bailed “on a neutral zone clear out in same playoffs.

    Marincin was benched after that.

    Fleming is from the eat raw meat hockey pool.

    He’ll love Fraser.

  6. sliderule says:

    Lowetide,

    You bet

  7. Jaxon says:

    I think you have a very sound theory on Fraser. He’s not that much of a change from Gryba except that he’s left handed. And being left handed absolutely changes what that player means and can bring to the team.

    I like Laleggia’s chances of getting more ice time and PP time this season after a first pro adjustment year.

  8. Water Fire says:

    I saw Fraser also as security. The AHL can be rough and a lot of the muscle has moved on. Moroz and Fraser and maybe Hamilton but I’m not sure he fights a lot. If JP is down there I’m sure Chia wants some team toughness to keep the running around in check.

  9. bcoil says:

    I wonder if they are trying to get both Gryba and Pardy to accept two way contracts for the same reason .Who over agrees first will get a contract.

  10. ThatGuy109 says:

    My thought was that it was to keep guys like Reinhart and Nurse (although realistically Nurse isn’t going to go down) in case of injury. If they need a 7th man to sit in the press box for half the games, I’d rather that guy be Fraser than Reinhart.

  11. GCW_69 says:

    From the other thread on sending nurse down:

    Kiltymcbagpipes: I disagree 🙂

    Nurse needs to earn a spot. He also needs to work on the offensive side of his game, which is far from polished, and his defensive reads still need some work. The NHL is NOT a development league. Nurse needs to develop that part of his game where it does not cost the Oilers wins. Top pairing minutes in Bakersfield with an edict from above that Nurse plays on the top power play unit is the best thing for him and the Oilers.

    Rushing him will likely turn him into Smid rather than the player he has the potential to be

  12. dustrock says:

    Surely Fraser II: Rumble in the Bungle must be the most bizarre signing this side of the Smithson trade.

  13. Jethro Tull says:

    GCW_69,

    The thing is with Nurse is that he’s too sweet for Peter and too sour for Paul.

    He’s absolutely too good for the AHL, yet can’t handle the role he’s ideally suited for in the NHL yet.

    3rd pairing heavily sheltered minutes with smart match-ups may be the key with him. He may learn so much more playing 15mins and watching, whereas Griffin needs to work on consistency, and the only way to do that is by playing a lot of minutes.

    I prefer bespoke training programs, rather than the ‘send to the AHL to dominate’ approach.

  14. Klima's_Bucket says:

    GCW_69,

    Has Nurse ever been on a top PP unit?

  15. dustrock says:

    In this scenario, Ali is the Oilers fan, too proud to quit, figuring he can rope-a-dope for a few more rounds until Fraser gets (re)tired

  16. OF17 says:

    Jethro Tull,

    How do you figure Nurse is too good for the AHL? If he dominates for a good stretch of games in a row, I’d be inclined to agree, but he hasn’t done that before because he’s been in the bigs the whole time.

    Once he proves he’s too good, I’ll agree, but he hasn’t done that, and his NHL season doesn’t exactly point to a guy with nothing to learn in the minors.

  17. LadiesloveSmid says:

    Jethro Tull,

    Nurse’s eTOI in Bakersfield was like 15.5 minutes, was it not? I think he’s got a lot to prove in the minors, still very raw in my eyes

  18. Kiltymcbagpipes says:

    GCW_69:
    From the other thread on sending nurse down:

    Kiltymcbagpipes: I disagree

    Nurse needs to earn a spot. He also needs to work on the offensive side of his game, which is far from polished, and his defensive reads still need some work. The NHL is NOT a development league. Nurse needs to develop that part of his game where it does not cost the Oilers wins. Top pairing minutes in Bakersfield with an edict from above that Nurse plays on the top power play unit is the best thing for him and the Oilers.

    Rushing him will likely turn him into Smid rather than the player he has the potential to be

    Sorry still disagree. 🙂

    His skillset is too good for the minors he just needs to work on better decision making against elite competition. That comes with experience and a consistent partner along with playing elite competition – not career minor leaguers. He can learn more playing sheltered minutes with Davidson than playing with Reinhart or whoever in the minors IMO. If our defense was a disaster or we knew Schultz was going to be his partner then maybe send him down but after persevering last year thru so much turmoil he did an admirable job and deserves to start again with the big boys assuming he has a good camp.

    Sending him down to play lesser competition is counterproductive in my mind. I’d rather take my chances that his decision making will improve playing with Davidson in his 2nd NHL season.

  19. Pouzar says:

    Craig Morgan‏@craigsmorgan
    Sources: Free-agent forward Radim Vrbata is nearing a 1-year deal with the Coyotes. Story soon on @AZSports

  20. treevojo says:

    From the last thread someone mentioned Brent Burns being the best defensemen from the finals.
    In my opinion Kris Letang was by far the best player from that series. He should have won the the mvp for the playoffs. I have to admit when Pittsburgh signed him to that contract I thought they were crazy. After watching this years playoffs I think team Canada is crazy for him not being in their top six. Did you folks see it different?

  21. Stelio Kontos says:

    Kiltymcbagpipes: Sorry still disagree. 🙂

    His skillset is too good for the minors he just needs to work on better decision making against elite competition. That comes with experience and a consistent partner along with playing elite competition – not career minor leaguers. He can learn more playing sheltered minutes with Davidson than playing with Reinhart or whoever in the minors IMO. If our defense was a disaster or we knew Schultz was going to be his partner then maybe send him down but after persevering last year thru so much turmoil he did an admirable job and deserves to start again with the big boys assuming he has a good camp.

    Sending him down to play lesser competition is counterproductive in my mind. I’d rather take my chances that his decision making will improve playing with Davidson in his 2nd NHL season.

    I’ve heard that argument before. Nurse might defensively be above AHL, but his awareness, and offence could still grow down there. He is too good of an athlete to transition into a defensive dman. He need time running a power play. He needs to grow in an environment where he isn’t expected to be a nuclear deterrent. Like Iginla, we need to control the monster inside nurse. He is NOT above the AHL offensively by a long stretch. We need to take this kid slow. He is a key to the rebuild, which now starts with the Nuge, and is built up the centre and on defence.

  22. Kitchener says:

    Klima’s_Bucket:
    GCW_69,

    Has Nurse ever been on a top PP unit?

    At times in junior, yes. SSM added an offensive dynamo for the playoff run his last season (name not on the tip of my tongue now), which was a smart depth move for the team but that displaced Nurse from default PP1.

    When I saw him play PP in junior, he looked good, but he had a unique style. Not a zippy little speedster (eg. DeAngelo, Ryan Murphy), not a simple bomb from the point (eg. Souray), but a real match-up nightmare for the opposition. Nurse in junior was a man amongst boys and it seems that all coaches (live and armchair virtual) over the past few years have been trying to suppress “his style”, but it worked in junior by eye very nicely. Here’s the style as I saw it:

    – zone entries: could carry the puck very well and occasionally went end-to-end right to the net. Given his speed and threat to go deep, defenders backed off and he gained the zone consistently with possession, then would pass.

    – in the zone: so mobile he would often switch places with forwards, then switch back to D, then play the other wing, etc. In essence, defenders had no idea where he would be located next. With his speed and smarts, he would nearly always be back in position to defend if needed. SSM cycled through formations until they found something liked or a chance emerged. It wasn’t chaotic, just really effective (that was a good team).

    – shot: not a “shoot it as hard a possible” kind of shooter (eg. Hunt). Not quite “dance along the blueline looking for a lane” finesse type either (eg. Lidstrom), but more Lidstrom than Hunt. He used his mobility and the threat of driving the net as prime weapons in Junior because he could almost always get away with it, allowing him a lot of space to get pucks through or to get the puck up to the forwards. He’s a smart player too, so it was more common to see him choosing a strategic shot (eg. chance for a tip; off the end boards; wrister through a hole; depending on the situation) than to see him lower his head and try to shoot 100mph.

    Clearly, playing in the NHL is harder than playing Junior. Nurse played all situations in Junior and was often the best player on the ice. No idea how that translates to the NHL, but that’s the most recent PP1 I think he’s played.

  23. Kitchener says:

    treevojo,

    Letang was superb. He’s different than Nurse (see my previous comment), but there’s a similarity in the sense that Letang was unpredictable and hard to defend.

    Pittsburgh would dress 4 solid D each game and then there was Letang – able to make the simple plays 18:00 per game, but able to find another gear when the team needed it or opportunities emerged.

  24. Water Fire says:

    treevojo:
    From the last thread someone mentioned Brent Burns being the best defensemen from the finals.
    In my opinion Kris Letang was by far the best player from that series. He should have won the the mvp for the playoffs. I have to admit when Pittsburgh signed him to that contract I thought they were crazy.After watching this years playoffs I think team Canada is crazy for him not being in their top six.Did you folks see it different?

    I agree. The guy was incredible.

  25. Professor Q says:

    Kitchener,

    Anthony DeAngelo?

  26. Woogie63 says:

    Mark Fraser signing is evidence the “smartest guy in the room” still has a voice in the management group.

    At the end of this year we will scratch our head on what that was all about. This year’s Korpie, Letestu signing.

  27. OF17 says:

    Woogie63:
    Mark Fraser signing is evidence the “smartest guy in the room” still has a voice in the management group.

    At the end of this year we will scratch our head on what that was all about.This year’s Korpie, Letestu signing.

    Uhhhh, Fraser is this year’s Brad Hunt signing. Veteran to spend most of the season on the farm and get into maybe 10 games or so in the show. Not at all comparable to Korpikoski or Letestu.

  28. Woogie63 says:

    OF17,

    Why would would you plan for Fraser to play 10 NHL games ahead of Musil or Simpson?

  29. maxwell_mischief says:

    these “lead by experience” dudes (gustavsson, hendricks, fraser, lesekstsu, fayne) are perfect! its like saying “… do you want this job? it can totally be yours, if you work for it” like some figurative carrot dangling in front of a … reindeer? who believes they can get the carrot? and can?

    I think the development of fringe oiler prospects (Caggulia, Pakarinen, Khaira, Slepyshev, Brossoit, Nurse, Oesterle, niemelainen, paigin, rasanen, benson, bear, jones, REINHART..) depends on them seeing jobs that they could very well take and pushing them to take it.

    This is why i feel very optimistic about Gustavsson, and not-Hudler-
    like, fkn challenge Yak to take a top 6 role without Hallsy, because he should and can
    challenge Puljujarvi to move ahead of Yak and maybe Ebs on the first line, because he should and can
    challenge larsson to play 23 minutes, all situations because he should and can
    challenge caggiula to be the first call up because he should and can
    challenge Brossoit to take Gustavsson backup job because he should and can

    or can and should

    whatever

    in other news, i personally think it is fundamentally stupid to push Reinhart’s physical game. Maybe it is the yogi in me, but the dude is imposing, if he becomes a master of positioning and harnesses the softer side of his game (carrying the puck in pressure, breakout passes) his game will ultimately round out because a big person will inherently play big. A mistake I think often made with developing players with “size”

  30. G Money says:

    Request by LadiesLoveSmid from last thread, WM viz for Cody Goloubef: http://i.imgur.com/D61h9c3.png

    Tough to get a bead on this guy, as his total ice time is only about 600 mins, so when you split it up into the WomoTiers (?), the ice time is starting to get a little low for reliability (moreso a problem for ‘Elite’).

    He’s got good results against the Gritense type folks, so certainly looks like he could be capable in a third pair role.

    Not quite so good against the middle, but funny enough, looks good against the top players. This is where the sample size becomes a concern – that ice time is a problem, so is that good result because of data, or is it because maybe he had a top rank partner when facing the toughs?

    This will actually be a good data point to check out when I get the WOMOWOWYs (?) going!

    Without knowing more about him (partners? how’s his scoring? his PK? can he play on the PP?), I’d hesitate to draw many conclusions off just this data.

    But gun to my head, just based on the WM data, I’d prefer e.g. Nakladal, FWIW.

  31. G Money says:

    I tried running Fraser, but of course he didn’t play last year. Talk about a sample size problem.

    My program helpfully told me:

    Player not found. Possible matches: ‘Mark Pysyk’, ‘Linus Ullmark’, ‘Mark Streit’, ‘Mattias Janmark’, ‘Mark Fayne’, ‘Mark McNeill’, ‘Marko Dano’, ‘Mark Barberio’, ‘Jacob Markstrom’, ‘Markus Granlund’, ‘Mark Giordano’, ‘Mark Letestu’, ‘Mark Borowiecki’, ‘Markus Hannikainen’, ‘Mark Stone’, ‘Mark Stuart’, ‘Mark Arcobello’, ‘Andrei Markov’, ‘Mark Scheifele’

    Um – yeah sure, instead of Mark Fraser, I’ll happily take Andrei Markov, or Mark Giordano.

  32. OF17 says:

    Woogie63:
    OF17,

    Why would would you plan for Fraser to play 10 NHL games ahead of Musil or Simpson?

    If Musil or Simpson are faltering, if they’re injured, if there are enough injuries on the big club that one or both is already up, if McLellan wants a more physical presence on his 3rd pairing, if Fraser beats Oesterle for the 7D slot. There are lots of potential reasons. Fraser could easily play 0 games or he could play more. I’d probably peg 5-10 as the reasonable projection at this point.

    The Oilers had 14 defensemen play 5 or more games last year. For next year, Klefbom, Larsson, Sekera, Fayne, Davidson, Nurse, Reinhart, Oesterle, Musil, Simpson, and Laleggia only makes 11. Fraser is more than likely going to get some games.

  33. OF17 says:

    maxwell_mischief,

    Why should we build our NHL team around how easy it is for prospects to make the team? The organizations that sign the Eric Fehrs of the world for depth make the playoffs. The ones that sign Gustavssons so their AHL goalie doesn’t have too much of a challenge don’t.

    PA Parenteau at $1.25 million. Chris Stewart at $1.15 million. Teddy Purcell at $1.6 million. Michael Grabner at $1.65 million. Lee Stempniak and Dale Weise at $2.5 and $2.35 million. Instead, we have a rookie all but guaranteed to make the lineup (at a $3+ million cap hit due to bonuses) because Chiarelli didn’t want it to be too difficult for him to supplant a veteran.

    The teams that signed those players? 5 out of 6 are good bets to make the playoffs next year. Go figure. Part of that is players wanting to play on winning teams, but IMO the bigger part is that successful teams take cheap chances to improve while teams like the Oilers ensure their prospects don’t have too much of a challenge.

  34. Woodguy says:

    Water Fire:
    I saw Fraser also as security. The AHL can be rough and a lot of the muscle has moved on. Moroz and Fraser and maybe Hamilton but I’m not sure he fights a lot. If JP is down there I’m sure Chia wants some team toughness to keep the running around in check.

    Agreed.

    Intimidation is still a thing in the AHL, moreso than in the NHL.

    There’s a lot of kids on the farm who benefit from someone like that.

    Gazdic is gone so they needed someone in the role.

    It’s not so much to “protect” them on ice, but rather make the other team know that if they pull a knife, this team will pull a gun etc. and this can keep things to just hockey on the ice.

    It’s a thing and as far as I hear, it’s still real.

  35. maxwell_mischief says:

    OF17,
    There’s simply more to it than that…

    before they had the vets to fill spots, Chicago was built on the foundation of development.
    Byfuglien, Ladd, Versteeg, Bickle, Bolland, Leddy, Stalberg, Saad, Shaw…
    tell me how they aren’t getting young guys into roster spots?
    they’ve been signing vets to replace players that excelled within their team structure, and because they were presented with an opportunity, they had that equal opportunity to seize it.
    similar system in Detroit
    LA
    BOS (in the past)

    and the oilers current system of adding vets has really worked right?
    I would take Puljujarvi>Grabner, Purcell, Stempniak, Dale Weise, Eric Fehr…
    That, to me… is actually funny, that I would even have to make that argument
    It is crazy to me how people are wanting these vets to sign with us but at the same time can’t wait to get Letestu, Hendricks, Fayne off the Oilers roster
    makes zero sense to me

  36. maxwell_mischief says:

    Sign BELANGER

  37. Centre of attention says:

    Woodguy: Agreed.

    Intimidation is still a thing in the AHL, moreso than in the NHL.

    There’s a lot of kids on the farm who benefit from someone like that.

    Gazdic is gone so they needed someone in the role.

    It’s not so much to “protect” them on ice, but rather make the other team know that if they pull a knife, this team will pull a gun etc. and this can keep things to just hockey on the ice.

    It’s a thing and as far as I hear, it’s still real.

    The pacific division of the AHL in particular still employs lots of heavy weights. There are still line brawls and staged fights etc. They changed the rules this year though so we will see. I think if you fight more than once in a game you’re ejected? Don’t quote me on that but I do know they changed the rules to try and stop some of the shenanigans.

    With Puljujarvi’s style of play, it would be nice for him to have some backup just in case he gets into a tough situation because you never know.

  38. Oilspill says:

    Still have a goon on pretty much each AHL team. The Slashdot AHL crowds pay to see it.

  39. Oilspill says:

    Oilspill:
    Still have a goon on pretty much each AHL team. The Slapshot AHL crowds pay to see it. As soon as Bettman acknowledges fighting cause brain injury or a court finds it so then I will be banned

  40. JimmyV1965 says:

    OF17:
    maxwell_mischief,

    Why should we build our NHL team around how easy it is for prospects to make the team? The organizations that sign the Eric Fehrs of the world for depth make the playoffs. The ones that sign Gustavssons so their AHL goalie doesn’t have too much of a challenge don’t.

    PA Parenteau at $1.25 million. Chris Stewart at $1.15 million. Teddy Purcell at $1.6 million. Michael Grabner at $1.65 million. Lee Stempniak and Dale Weise at $2.5 and $2.35 million. Instead, we have a rookie all but guaranteed to make the lineup (at a $3+ million cap hit due to bonuses) because Chiarelli didn’t want it to be too difficult for him to supplant a veteran.

    The teams that signed those players? 5 out of 6 are good bets to make the playoffs next year. Go figure. Part of that is players wanting to play on winning teams, but IMO the bigger part is that successful teams take cheap chances to improve while teams like the Oilers ensure their prospects don’t have too much of a challenge.

    Agreed. We don’t want to make it easy for kids to make the team. That’s what we have done for far too long.

  41. JimmyV1965 says:

    maxwell_mischief:
    OF17,
    There’s simply more to it than that…

    before they had the vets to fill spots, Chicago was built on the foundation of development.
    Byfuglien, Ladd, Versteeg, Bickle, Bolland, Leddy, Stalberg, Saad, Shaw…
    tell me how they aren’t getting young guys into roster spots?
    they’ve been signing vets to replace players that excelled within their team structure, and because they were presented with an opportunity, they had that equal opportunity to seize it.
    similar system in Detroit
    LA
    BOS (in the past)

    and the oilers current system of adding vets has really worked right?
    I would take Puljujarvi>Grabner, Purcell, Stempniak, Dale Weise, Eric Fehr…
    That, to me… is actually funny, that I would even have to make that argument
    It is crazy to me how people are wanting these vets to sign with us but at the same time can’t wait to get Letestu, Hendricks, Fayne off the Oilers roster
    makes zero sense to me

    JP is certainly better long term than any of those guys you listed. The question is today. Is he better today? Make him earn his way by blocking his path with a credible player that can contribute to the team. Don’t gift him a spot, or anyone else, because they have pedigree.

  42. Skeeziks says:

    In many ways, Nurse seems to have a tool kit similar to Larry Robinson. He is big, tough, skates exceptionally well and has a lot of potential. Robinson played 112 games in the AHL and did not totally dominate there. If Nurse plays in the AHL he doesn’t need to dominate, he simply needs to develop his overall head game. I would love to see him get some time in the AHL and see where things go from there. The key will be patience, something the Oilers are certainly not known for.

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