|PRO Reg. Season||44||20||10||30||9||16.4|
|BOS Reg. Season||14||2||0||2||0||15.4||53.0%||101.5||9:39|
Livin' The High Life
When the Bruins acquired Matt Fraser - in that trade where a certain young adult who partied too much got shipped to Dallas- I began calling him Matt "Not Brendan" Fraser. I thought it was funny, although of course I did, because I told no one else about it. Though, as the year progressed and Fraser warmed his way into our hearts with uncharacteristic fights, an overtime goal against hockey's version of those agitating spirits from Ghostbusters and a delightful quote about eating frozen yogurt, I realized it wasn't fair to connect such a promising hockey player to a man who made not one, or even two The Mummy movies, but three.
In 14 NHL tilts this year, the native of Red Deer, Alberta tallied 2 goals, 13 shots-on-goal, a 15.4% shooting percentage, and did so while averaging just 9:39 of ice time per contest. He may not have lined up against the toughest opposition in the world has to offer, posting a 27.3% 5-on-5 QOC (quality of competition), but Fraser's growth as a player - potentially elevating himself from an, at peak, elite AHL scorer, to a depth contributor at the NHL level - can be seen during his brief, yet successful playoff stint with the varsity B's.
Fraser played 4 games in the NHL playoffs. He made his playoff debut in Game 4 of the Atlantic Division Finals against the Montreal Canadiens and scored his first career playoff goal that same night, an overtime winner that silenced 21,000 bozos and calmed the heart rates of everyone from Hartford to Bangor. Fraser's CorsiRel jumped to +6.3%, compared to +1.1% in the regular season, and his playoff PDO lead the club at 108.1. Though keep in mind he only played one-third of the total games. But even then, not too shabby Mr. Yogurt Man.
Time In Providence
Down on the farm, getting crunk with his bad self at the Dunk, Fraser was poised to reach the 30 goal plateau for the third consecutive AHL season, and fifth straight of his career if you date back to his days with the Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League. In 44 games with the Baby-B's, Fraser scored 20 times, added 10 assists and flung 122 shots on goal. In 5 playoff games against the Springfield Falcons, Fraser lit the lamp on 3 occasions, added 2 assists and added an overtime winner at the MassMutual Center during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Home Piece be straight up scoring all the overtime goals.
Hey, You Wanna Tussle?
I'd be remissed if I failed to mention Fraser's two bouts while with the B's. According to fan voting at HockeyFights.com, Fraser lost both tilts; a decisive loss against Buffalo Sabres forward Marcus Foligno and a closer bout against Winnipeg Jets forward James Wright. He's certainly not on par with fisticuffs guru and teammate Shawn Thornton, but heck, he's more apt than handing me a pair of boxing gloves, skates and told to make something happen. The efforts there, I guess is the point I'm trying to make. You know, "the will to win" and that rah-rah hoopla. I like toughness and grit - whatever the hell grit means anyway - in my bottom six, and this 6-foot-1-inch boy from the prairie has that undefinable"it".
Where He Projects
Given his snail-like acceleration on skates and buzzing wrister that's crying out for a playmaking center *stares at Carl Soderberg*, Fraser has the potential, at least in theory, to develop into a poor mans Glen Murray. Murray made a living hovering in the slot, tapping his stick and waiting for Joe Thornton and Jozef Stumpel to give him the puck. Fraser, set to become a restricted free agent this summer, can perform a modified version of Murray's long ago accomplishments for a price that will ease the burden of a cap-strapped Peter Chiarelli. It wouldn't be outrageous to predict that, down the road, Fraser could net between 15 and 20 goals per year and hover near the 35 to 40 point mark. Where he fits on the bottom six, however, is a question that perhaps our friends at MIT could attempt to answer.
Armchair general managers are screaming for Chris Kelly to be booted out of town, and Gregory Campbell finds himself in a similar position following a 2013-2014 campaign soured by regression. Fraser, ideally, would find himself on the left side of the Soderberg-Eriksson duo, a spot he'll likely fight Justin Florek and Kelly, contingent upon his employment status with the Jacobs family, for in camp.
Unless you're some kind of telepathic-time-traveling-wizard-man, it's safe to say Fraser exceeded expectations. He played well as a top six forward in Providence, in both the regular season and playoffs, and showed he has something to offer during his brief time in Boston.
If he had managed to somehow eat frozen yogurt while scoring the overtime winner in Game 4, he would have received an A+ and three gold stars for a grade. I don't know where the NHL stands on allowing players to eat on the ice or how the rest of you feel about it for that matter, but I'm allowed to dream, right?