Matt Fraser Driven to Make an Impact with Boston
BostonBruins.com - On July 4, Matt Fraser was enjoying a summer day out on the golf course.
"My sister called me and she had asked if I had got traded; I said no, I kind of just brushed it off as I was busy," the 23-year-old winger said via phone from Alberta, recalling the whirlwind day he was involved in the seven-player blockbuster that sent him to Boston from the Dallas Stars.
Immersed in his golf game, Fraser wasn't following on Twitter and social media as the trade was rumored, and then reported - like most of the hockey world.
"And then, ten minutes later, a couple of holes later, my phone had ten missed calls and ten texts. That was just the start of it."
One of Fraser's next calls, of course, was to his sister, graciously apologizing. One of the calls came from Bruins Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney, welcoming him to the organization.
"Needless to say, I’m real excited about this opportunity," the winger said, that excitement very apparent over the phone. "When you think of the Boston Bruins, you think of a winning culture and a winning tradition."
"And just how much they expect out of each and every season, that they’re a competing team and they’re a team that wants to win."
Fraser is entering his third season pro. He's played in 13 NHL games, all with Dallas, and scored his first (and only, to date) NHL goal off a pass from new Bruin Loui Eriksson (Fun Fact: the other young winger acquired in the trade with Dallas, Reilly Smith, also had his first goal in the league assisted by Eriksson).
Fraser finished the 2012-13 season second in the AHL with 33 goals in 62 games as a Texas Star, following up a 2011-12 season that saw him notch 37 in 73 games.
In the last two seasons, no AHL player has scored more than his 70 goals in that span.
"I think for myself I've never wanted to be a player that was just good enough. I’ve always wanted to be an impact player," said Fraser.
"Whether that means scoring a goal, whether getting in a fight, or whatever it may be. I’ve always wanted to be an impact player and kind of show everyone really that I can play here, I want to be here, and I want to be successful."
"I’ve said it from day one. I don’t want to be just a player or just a face on a team I want to be a guy that they can rely on and a guy that can be an impact player. I think as long as I hold on to that thought and that mentality, then it will steer me in the right direction."
He's hoping that direction finds him in the spoked-B. The 6-foot-2, roughly 200-pound winger has a Bruins' style game. He uses his size to create scoring room; he drops the gloves when necessary. It's a significant component of his game, something he prides himself on, and though it's a strength, he works at every day.
"Absolutely," Fraser said with conviction, on envisioning himself fitting into the B's game. "You think of the Boston Bruins and you think of a big, tough team. A team that can skate hard and really play any style of play. I think they showed that against Pittsburgh last year."
"It’s exciting to be a part of something like that and hopefully be able to contribute to something like that. I feel like it’s a good fit for my game and I feel like I can contribute and be a guy that can give something in the lineup."
Heading into Boston's training camp, which kicks off in a few weeks on September 11, Fraser is looking to prove himself to Boston - to the management who brought him in, the coaches, new teammates, fans.
"I’m counting down the days until the summer’s over and I can head down there," he said. "It’s an exciting year for myself. Those couple years in Dallas, you’re just kind of getting your feet wet and getting your feet underneath you. This will be my third year pro and you kind of get to the point where you’re here, you want to make an impact, you want to make a splash."
"I really feel like this is my year to do that and to show Boston that I don’t want to be just a player in the American League; I want to be a Boston Bruin and I want to play in the NHL."
Fraser will have some competition to make Boston's roster. The third line has been eyed (much like last season's training camp) as the spot to make. If the Merlot Line sticks, with Chris Kelly and Carl Soderberg on the third, there are a slew of wingers vying for that opening.The right winger spot for that line has been much talked about and much discussed, and during camp, it will be no different. In Fraser's case, he's played predominantly on the left side last season in the AHL, but played on the right when he was up with Dallas (in juniors, he was a right winger for three or four years).
For the winger, though, whichever side he plays, he'll always have an extra chip on his shoulder.
There's a theme in the minds of the undrafted players I've worked with; there's a constant drive to prove others wrong, to show you belong.
"Coming into pro that’s always what you think, right? You’re not a first round pick, you’re not drafted, you almost feel like an outsider a little bit because you don’t know anyone," said Fraser.
"It just gives you all the more incentive to be there and to show people, to prove people wrong that you should have been drafted, that you’re good enough to play pro."
"Right from day one, the first day I ever played professional hockey, that’s been my goal, to play in the NHL."
"I feel like I’m on the right track," he added, looking ahead to camp. "There’s going to be some healthy competition [for the NHL roster]. When it comes down to it, it’s all about preparing myself to be ready."