Mark Fraser was placed on waivers for the purposes of re-assignment to Albany today. Fraser is a 6'3" 220 lb thumper with surprisingly good skating ability. He struggles with decision-making and tends to take stupid penalties at times. But with the Oilers' troubles on the blueline right now, struggles with decision making and stupid penalties might be an overall improvement. Should the Oilers take a flyer on Fraser?
John Fischer's take: "He's a physical defenseman who can play limited minutes. On the other hand, he has rarely shown he could be a regular defenseman in this league. His physical play tends to get him too hot-headed, which can get him into penalty trouble or out of position."
Two seasons ago, Fraser played in 61 games for the Devils, matched against the easiest possible competition with the easiest possible zonestarts in the league (64.7%) amongst all NHL defensemen. He only broke even against that level of competition at even strength and spent little time on the penalty kill. In 2010-11, he was limited to just 26 games in New Jersey because of a broken hand that kept him out of action for 34 games.
He's young (he just turned 25) and would be entering his third NHL season. He's a physical player (216 hits in 94 NHL games) with good mobility. He's signed to a one-year contract with a price tag of only $550k. His contract expires at the end of this year and after that, he's a restricted free agent. He's not going to save the defense, but he could add depth to a club that was sorely lacking in defensive depth even before Ryan Whitney, Ladislav Smid and Taylor Fedun were lost to injury. Then again, he might just be another 7th defenseman on a team loaded with 7th defensemen.
Is he worth a waiver claim to help the defense while Whitney and Smid heal and as an insurance policy should any other defenseman lose time to injury? The negative here is the Oilers only have one contract remaining under the 50-man limit and claiming Fraser would take up that final spot. The positive is that though it's a one-way contract, his deal is only a one-year deal for $550k. If he doesn't work out in the NHL, that $550k is easy to bury in Oklahoma City for the rest of the season.
The Oilers should be interested in Carl Gunnarsson, but they've not done well at the trading table in the last few years, so that option might be risky, no matter how much sense it makes to add a legitimate top 4 defender to the team.. They might also have interest in Anton Stralman, but Stralman has made the final round of cuts in Devils' camp and looks like a lock to make the team. Stralman would be unlikely to pass up a roster spot in New Jersey for a contract in Edmonton. So rather than bang away on the trade phones, Steve Tambellini might make a zero-risk acquisition and see how it works out.