Among the solid moves by Steve Tambellini in the calendar year 2010 was the acquistion of Colin Fraser for a 6th round pick. He then signed Fraser to a 2-year contract for $825,000 a season. That’s probably in the 9-12 range among forwards on the salary depth chart. Is that where he’ll play?
Fraser went 48.8% in the FO circle (445 sorties) and played 9:35 a game for 70 games (7-12-19 +6 92 shots). Fraser did suit up for the playoffs 3 times. He played 4line opposition with 4line help and had a 52% offensive-zone start. He did PK (1:26 a night) and if he can help out in that area the Oilers will gladly pay him in full.
When he signed June 24, I posted the following:
- Whose job will he be taking? Several candidates come to mind. Cogliano took 379 FO’s last year, Pouliot played the wing (when healthy) but his slot might be open by summer’s end. Ryan Potulny might be a little vulnerable. Ethan Moreau, Robert Nilsson and Patrick O’Sullivan are vulnerable to everything. I don’t want to overstate the issue, in fact someone like Pouliot (with say Ryan Jones) could end up being a solid line. There is no way to project a top 12F for the 10-11 Oilers and exclude Colin Fraser. That makes this a good trade.
From that list, only Cogliano and Ryan Jones are still Oilers. One month later. A lot of movement, and now a much clearer picture on the bottom 2 lines. The Oilers are going to be tougher, more likely to fight, aggressive forecheckers and are unlikely to fill the net.
Among the signed forwards, I’d count Fraser, Ryan Jones, Zack Stortini, JF Jacques and Steve MacIntyre as strong candidates for slots 10-14. Fair? Among the other signed forwards, I’d estimate 1-9 would probably be Penner, Hemsky, Horcoff, Gagner, Hall, Brule, Pääjärvi, Omark, Cogliano.
There aren’t too many crossovers. Horcoff needs to be in the top 6 in order to face the toughest opponent (why? because the Oilers don’t have veteran wingers who can play a checking game successfully), Gagner should center the 2nd skill line. The top 4 wingers are likely to be Penner, Hemsky, Hall and Brule. The Oilers are going to have a terrible time sending out the other two kids (Pääjärvi and Eberle) so that means someone (likely Fraser or Cogliano) will center the kids.
Can you call it “run and gun” offense when the puck spends most of the night in your zone? I like the Fraser deal, am heartened by the tremendous quality arriving from juniors and Europe and believe Gagner will have a strong season in 2010-11. I remain a believer in Shawn Horcoff’s wide range of skills, Penner’s outstanding range of skills and Ales Hemsky’s sublime talent.
However, the depth chart above needs work and there are affordable free agent options available. A veteran center to help Horcoff and Fraser on the PK, a veteran RW to mentor the kids when they’re struggling. I don’t see Fraser and Jones as being those veterans who can fill the FO/PK/mentor role, but if we slide through August without any movement the die will be cast. We’re buying lottery tickets.