Thursday, July 29, 2010

Devils re-sign Fraser

The Devils avoided arbitration, re-signing defenseman Mark Fraser for one year, $500,000. The former '05 third round pick (84th overall) fared alright in his first full season- tallying three goals, three assists and 36 penalty minutes while posting a plus-three rating over 61 contests. The 23 year-old from Ottawa also took part in one playoff game.

Used primarily as a sixth D by former coach Jacques Lemaire, Fraser didn't see a ton of ice-time. However, he brought physicality to the blueline and surprisingly contributed offensively. Prior to last season, he spent most of three years in Lowell aside from seven games with the big club as a 20 year-old rookie in '06-07.

With John MacLean taking over the reigns after spending a year at Lowell, it remains to be seen whether Fraser's role increases. Especially with the Devils beefing up the back end thanks to key additions Anton Volchenkov and Henrik Tallinder, helping offset Paul Martin's departure to rival Pittsburgh. With only one offensive D left in '09-10 revelation Andy Greene, Lou Lamoriello could be in the market for another solid skating blueliner who can contribute. Physical vets Colin White and Bryce Salvador are also expected back, rounding out the blueline. Fraser will likely battle with Anssi Salmela and Matt Corrente for the final spot.

Much depends on what transpires with the Ilya Kovalchuk case versus the NHL. With the NHLPA filing an appeal as expected, the controversial 17-year $102 million contract will go to an arbitrator, who will decide its fate. Club owner Jeff Vanderbeek is hoping for a quick resolution so that all sides can move forward from the latest chaos caused by a league Hell bent on another lockout. It'll be interesting to see what develops from this and how it impacts the next CBA.

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