January 31 2014 10:44AM
It was only a matter of time before the Toronto Maple Leafs made a roster move to clean up the roster mess that November/December's wave of injuries created. Today, the tipping point was reached and a deal was made with the Edmonton Oilers, sending defenceman Mark Fraser to the land of Oil and misery.
Fraser heads to Emonton, taking with him the remainder of a 1-year, 1.275M contract. This saves the Leafs $477,308 (per Capgeek) for the rest of the season, and more importantly, gives the Leafs enough wiggle room in roster numbers to active Dave Bolland off of injured reserve.
Without this trade, the easiest routes would have been to either waive a defenceman (likely Fraser), or send down Carter Ashton and still have an imbalance in healthy scratches. The Leafs had been riding eight healthy defencemen for quite some time now, and Fraser had very clearly become the weakest link.
The reality was simple in this case. Despite winning over the hearts of many last year, this has been a train-wreck season for the 27 year old. Just look at how he compares to his peers (Gleason not included):
|CR QoC||Corsi Rel||PDO||Pens/60||OZS||OZF||DIF||Pts/60|
For those who aren't sure what these stats are saying, it's pretty simple.
- The first column implies that Fraser faced the easiest opponents out of his teammates in terms of shot volume.
- The second implies that he gave up the most shot attempts relative to his teammates.
- The third gives him a bit of credit for what happens on the scoreboard; saying that he isn't benefiting from high shooting and save percentages.
- The fourth implies that he gives up the most penalties while on the ice.
- The fifth implies that he gets mostly defensive zone minutes.
- The sixth implies that he is the worst at getting into the offensive zone.
- The seventh implies that that the team moves up into the offensive zone least effectively when he's on the ice, combining the two prior columns.
- Lastly, he's the least efficent even-strength scorer by a long shot on a back end that's already offensively struggling.
Needless to say, it hasn't been a good year for him. is it possible that he needs a change of scenery? Perhaps. Is it possible that his knee and, well, skull injuries didn't do him a world of good. But no matter what the case, this is addition by subtraction for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
For his own sake, I hope Fraser rebounds in Edmonton. My own experience with him while he was on the Marlies was nothing but positive, and many others will attest to him being a good person. He showed dominance at that level in 2011/12, and looked capable of getting some NHL minutes baesd on last season. Letting him go to near-arbitration and paying him over a million dollars wasn't exactly the brightest reaction by Toronto's management, but they've successful parachuted out of the situation before it could bite them.
In an addition by subtraction move, you don't exactly expect a lot coming back to you. The Leafs received Cameron Abney and Teemu Hartikainen as their newest asssets.
Abney is a 22 year old enforcer, selected by Edmonton in the third round of the 2009 Entry Draft (three picks ahead of Cody Eakin!). To date, Abney has zero AHL points in 21 games, and 18 in his 95 games in the ECHL. Needless to say, I wouldn't hold my breath in hopes of him making his way into the NHL. Even Orr and McClaren produce more at the highest level. Expect Abney to report to the Orlando Solar Bears and be a worst case scenario for the Toronto Marlies until his contract expires.
As for Hartikainen, he could be a solid get if he decides to come back to North America. If you were a fan of Leo Komarov, you would just as quickly fall for Teemu. While not as productive as Komarov, Hartikainen is a pest with limitless energy and a willingness to hit everything in sight, with some ability to contribute offensively. He's also three and a half years younger, and left for the same reason; increased minutes at a higher level in an attempt to make Team Finland. Komarov pulled it off, while Hartikainen was a camp cut.
With the Olympics behind us, I have my fingers crossed for both guys to come back to North America, sign with the Leafs, and become the Finnish Bash Brothers. It's unlikely, but with Toronto owning their rights, one can dream, right?
Darren Dreger says that the plan for Hartikainen is to leave him in Russia for now.
Speaking of Dreger, the losers of this trade are every single faux-insider who saw his original tweet breaking the news and copied it. Why? Because Dreger accidentally spelled Abney's surname wrong, making it very easy to see who was receiving news and who was a plagiarist.
Similarly, everybody who took the also-pointed out news that Carter Ashton was skating with Barb Underhill on the Marlies rink at Mastercard Centre as a sign of demotion. Underhill does most of her drills and sessions on the secondary pad, and the Marlies are on a road trip. No demotion has happened yet.