The astrolabe has been used for centuries to measure the stars. It has been used to find and predict the location of planets, figure out horoscopes, and for surveying land. Now the idea of the astrolabe is being commandeered to give this series measuring the performance of the Stars an appropriate name. This series is going to give an analytical recap of each remaining Dallas Star that saw significant ice time in 2013.
If you're familiar with WOWY analysis, this is similar with a few extra features. These profiles will evaluate usage and production initially. They will then move into WOWY analysis which shows how every player on the Stars played both with and without a specified player. The next feature is a shot chart detailing every even strength shot by the given player. Finally, the profiles will end with an eye toward the player's role in 2014. You can find the hub for all of the profiles here. The information comes from various sources including, but not limited to: behindthenet.ca, hockeyanalysis.com, and somekindofninja.com.
Matt Fraser is the subject of the initial profile.
Matt Fraser is a bit controversial. He has one of the most noticeable skills in hockey: a laser beam of a shot. The rest of his game is debatable. He has been a huge AHL scorer after being an undrafted free agent signing. The production has yet to translate to the NHL, and the general consensus has been that he needs top six minutes to be an effective player given his skill set.
That may end up being the case, but his work down the stretch suggested that he could be a solid option for fourth line minutes in the 2014 season.
In 2013 Fraser saw minutes slightly beyond what you would normally expect from a fourth line player. After his recall the Stars gave Fraser second line minutes to see if he could bring an offensive spark to a team that dealt away it's leading scorer two separate times. That didn't last particularly long. Fraser wasn't able to generate much production.
|Year||G + A1/60||PDO||Corsi/60||F Rank|
Fraser scored .9 goals plus primary assists per 60 even strength minutes which is much less than inspiring. He was a rookie though, and his underlying possession numbers were 5th best among all Stars forwards still on the roster. Some of that comes from who he was skating with though. The Corsi chart below illustrates the problem with Fraser as a rookie. The chart below shows Fraser's Corsi % with every one of his teammates. It shows his Corsi % when he is away from that teammate, and what his teammate did when not with Fraser.
|2013||Together||Fraser apart||Teammate apart|
The bulk of his ice time came with Cody Eakin and Loui Eriksson. It would be nice to be able to make a more definitive statement about what Fraser did, but the really small samples of play make it unrealistic and unfair to Fraser to do so. What we can see is that when Fraser was on the ice with Eriksson and Eakin the trio generated a fair number of shot attempts, and that Fraser was more productive away from Eriksson (52.4 Corsi %) than Eriksson was away from Fraser (50.6).
Those notes are somewhat counter-intuitive because the Stars seemed lackluster and ineffective most of the time when Fraser was on the ice. That might be because the shots Fraser took were less than impressive. His shot chart is below. The average distance on a Fraser shot was over 40 feet away from the net. Check out some of the places from where he took these shots:
The shot from center ice is going to distort his average shot distance a little, but the fact remains that Fraser was volume shooting. On the one hand that's a good thing. The Stars need to get pucks at the net. On the other hand it speaks to Fraser's game in general. He needs to work at getting into better scoring areas to utilize his shot more effectively.
Another thing to consider is that the idea behind putting numerous pucks on net should generate rebounds. So, players crashing the net with someone like Fraser chucking pucks would be ideal. Eakin has that ability, but Eriksson is anything but a net crasher.
Given those realities and the organizational changes it might be a good time to reconsider Fraser. The idea that he is only going to have value as a top six forward simultaneously limits his future and sets him up for failure.
A lot of NHLers break into the NHL playing bottom six minutes until they earn top six minutes. I've come around to the idea that Fraser could be successful in a bottom six role in 2014 playing with net crashers like Antoine Roussel and Ryan Garbutt. They aren't huge playmakers, but their ability to drive the net would open more space for Fraser to operate and create rebound opportunities.
Also limiting him to only top six minutes puts unrealistic expectations on him. Produce, or get out. That's a real high pressure way to begin an NHL career. Fraser is going to need to develop some other secondary skills before he can be a dependable top six forward, but he isn't going to develop those playing in the AHL or only playing second line minutes.
In 2014 I would expect to see Fraser playing bottom six minutes for the Stars while trying to develop other aspects of his game. If he is able to develop other aspects of his game (skating, playmaking, defending, etc.) he could make a home for himself in Dallas. Realistically it is still a long shot that he will develop to be more than a bottom six winger, but if he is going to we will likely see some of those steps taken in 2014.