Matt Fraser never had his named called at the NHL Draft. What he did get last fall – while grabbing a bite to eat at a Quiznos – was a call from his agent, saying that the Dallas Stars were interested in signing him.
“I’ll never forget that phone call that day,” said Fraser.
Not long after that, the left wing put his name on a three-year entry-level deal with the Stars. And then he went out and had an excellent final year of junior hockey with the Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League.
Fraser, as an overage player on the Ice roster, registered 36 goals and 38 assists in 66 games during the regular season for Kootenay.
He led the WHL playoffs in goal scoring with 17 in 19 games and finished second in points with 27 as the Ice won the league championship.
Then he had 4 goals and 2 assists in 5 games at the Memorial Cup, tying for the tournament lead in goals and finishing in a tie for second in points as Kootenay finished third among the four teams.
“It was an exciting time personally and for the Kootenay Ice organization. Obviously, the Memorial Cup didn’t go as well as we planned, but the experience was good,” said Fraser. “Personally, it was nice to have some success. It’s a team game and recognition has to go to my linemates before I can put anything on myself.”
The 21-year-old Fraser doesn’t like to talk much about his personal accomplishments; he prefers to focus on team goals. That’s one of the things the Stars like about him – he’s a great team guy. He's also a pretty good player and the Stars are hoping that he's one of those free agent signings out of juniors that pays dividends.
“He’s a real honest kid, he’s big, he’s got some good two-way attributes and he’s got a nice scoring touch,” said Les Jackson, Dallas Stars Director of Scouting and Player Development. “His team play is awesome, his attitude and his bottom line criteria for team play is awesome. He just comes to play. ... He is definitely an impressive young kid.”
Fraser has excellent size at 6-2, 218 pounds, a good shot and a knack for getting into those open areas to get that shot off.
“I take pride in finding that spot and being the guy that wants the puck. During the game I want the puck on my stick. I don’t mean that selfishly, that’s where I like to be,” said Fraser. “A lot of the goals I’ve scored are results of great passes from my linemates and there’s a responsibility there and you’ve got to make sure that puck goes into the net.”
Fraser turns pro full time this season, but he does have a little pro experience under his belt. He played two games for Peoria of the AHL on an amateur tryout contract at the end of the 2009-10 season.
He is expected to start this coming season with the Texas Stars and if he makes a strong showing at Dallas’ training camp he could possibly set himself up for an NHL call up at some point this season.
Right now, he’s focused on making the jump to pro from juniors, and his focus isn’t on just what he has to do on the ice.
“There’s that whole professional attitude, learning to live on your own and cook on your own. Just grasping how to be a pro away from the rink is the biggest thing that sets a lot of guys apart. You have some income being a pro, and learning how to manage your money and spending it on stuff you don’t need.
“As for my game, speed is such a big thing for me and as long as I have my feet moving when I am playing I think I will be OK.”