The Dallas Stars have secured two more pending restricted free agents, signing forward Matt Fraser and defenseman Cameron Gaunce to one-year, two-way contracts, the team announced on Monday.
Fraser appeared in 12 games for the Stars last season, scoring one goal and recording two assists. Receiving some opportunities in the top six, Fraser was eventually relegated to more of a support role and never really seemed to find his groove in the NHL. He's become a prolific scorer in the AHL, however, with 33 goals in 66 games in the AHL last season.
There is a concern that Fraser may not be able to really translate his skill to the NHL, as he has trouble creating space to really open up on his deadly shot. Fraser also received little time on the power play, where is is most dangerous in the AHL and where the Texas Stars really utilized him the best.
Gaunce was acquired by the Stars when Tomas Vincour was sent to the Colorado Avalanche. At 23 years old, Gaunce has now spent three full seasons in the AHL and played just nine games for the Texas Stars last year in the regular season and then nine more in the playoffs.
Gaunce is regarded as a strong two-way defenseman, although he's never really shown much potential as a top offensive option from the blue line. Gaunce's NHL potential is still very much unknown, although he did quickly become a top pairing option for the Texas Stars quickly after arriving in Austin. Gaunce will once again get a significant shot in the AHL to prove himself and should be in a better position this season than he was in Lake Erie, where he suffered through a very disappointed year.
He is strong on the puck and makes good decisions moving the puck in transition, and is generally just a very solid defenseman without doing anything exceptionally well. Still, he remains one of the better options on defense in the Stars' system and his well-rounded approach could prove valuable.
No matter their potential in the NHL, both Fraser and Gaunce remain as extremely valuable pieces of the Texas Stars and those in Austin are no doubt pleased both are locked up for at least another year.
Here's the press release:
The Dallas Stars announced today that the club has signed forward Matt Fraser and defenseman Cameron Gaunce to one year, two-way contracts.
Fraser, 23, skated in 12 NHL games during the 2012-13 campaign, earning his first career NHL goal against the Nashville Predators on Feb. 25 and recorded three points (1G-2A). Fraser appeared in 62 games this season with the Texas Stars, Dallas' development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL), notching 46 points (33G-13A) and finishing second on the club in overall scoring. He appeared in nine games during the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs and notched two goals.
The 6-foot-1 native of Red Deer, Alta., finished this past season ranking first in the AHL in power-play goals (17), second in goals (33) and was named to the 2012-13 AHL Second All-Star Team. Earlier this season, he was selected to represent the Western Conference at the 2013 AHL All-Star Game. Fraser went undrafted and was signed as a free agent on Nov. 17, 2010.
Gaunce, 23, split the 2012-13 AHL season between the Lake Erie Monsters and the Texas Stars, skating in a total of 70 games and recording 16 points (2G-14A) with 98 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-1 defenseman from Markham, Ont., was acquired from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for forward Tomas Vincour on April 2, 2013. He has appeared in 11 career NHL games, all during the 2010-11 season with Colorado, recording one goal with 16 penalty minutes. Gaunce was Colorado's second-round selection (50th overall) in the 2008 NHL Draft.