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.
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
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
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
- 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.