Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
The NHL Season is quickly approaching, with that in mind we’re going to take a look at who is (likely) to be on the Leafs roster come October 1 in Montreal. Contract numbers via CapGeek.com; Regular Stats via Hockey-reference.com; Nerd stats via behindthenet.ca. For the rest of our Player Previews go here.
Mark Fraser, No. 36, defenseman | 6’4″, 220 LBS | 26-years old.
ToT Approved Nicknames:
I don’t know if I’ve ever come across a nickname for Fraser, and quite honestly he’s not good enough for me to spend the time to think of a crappy one, so the answer is none.
4 NHL seasons, 3 with New Jersey, 143 career games
1-year $1.275-million deal signed this offseason
143 GP 3 Goals 13 Assists 16 Points
45 GP 0 Goals 18 Assists 18 Points
On-ice Corsi -12.27; PDO: 1073
You Oughta Know:
Despite scoring just 8 points last season, Fraser managed to be among the league leaders in +/-. While this was due partially to luck (see above PDO) and partially due to sheltered minutes, it’s still something and now you know.
Mark Fraser is a lumbering defensemen that doesn’t skate particularly well, isn’t and adept passer, doesn’t have an above average hockey sense. What he does have is a gargantuan frame that he is not shy about throwing around at the opposition. This combined with his willingness to drop the gloves and step into the role of face puncher when required has allowed him to get into 143 games in the world’s best hockey league despite the aforementioned lack of requisite skill.
Fraser is prototypical stay at home defenseman, that loves to mix it up and play physical. Which is exactly the kind of player that Randy Carlyle loves, and one of the primary reasons that Fraser found himself getting regular ice time in front of more talented defensemen like John Michael-Liles and Jake Gardiner throughout the season. The Mark Fraser that we saw in Toronto last season is the epitome of what he will be as a hockey player: steady, unflashy, physical, with virtually no upside. Not a bad player as your 6th or 7th defenseman, but anymore than that and when lady luck flips allegiances you could be in trouble.
What to Expect:
Looking at the Maple Leafs depth chart on the blue line, I have a hard time picturing where Fraser is going to slot in. There are at least 7 defenseman at the Leafs disposal that I would rather see in the line up than Fraser (Phaneuf, Gunnarsson, Franson, Gardiner, Liles, Ranger, Rielly), although if Liles is traded and/or Franson can’t be signed things obviously change.
In an ideal world, Fraser will end up as the Leafs 7th defenseman, slotting into the line up whenever required due to injury, ineffectiveness, or Randy Carlyle wanting more physicality out of the back-end. In this ideal world of mine, Fraser would play maybe 10-15 games at most, and pitch in a few points along the way.
Unfortunately I live in a world where I’m a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, which is far from ideal. Cody Franson probably won’t sign, Morgan Rielly will be sent back to the WHL, and we’ll see Mark Fraser get 15+ minutes a game while being exposed repeatedly by faster/more skilled players. His PDO luck from last season will vanish, and he will be a liability on the back-end while running into 10-15 points by accident.
In the end it will probably play out somewhere in between the two scenarios outlined above, Mark Fraser won’t be as “steady” as he was last year nor will he be as bad as I fear (unless he is, in that case I called it).