I never quite understood why Red Deer, Alberta's Matt Fraser was never drafted by a NHL team. He was a late bloomer sure, but he had some really good tools in his hockey tool kit. That's what made him an astute signing of an undrafted junior player by the Dallas Stars.
After barely being noticed in the Western Hockey League from 2009 to 2011, Fraser emerged as a back-to-back 30 goal scorer in his final two seasons with the Kootenay Ice. He was also noted for his humanitarian work, raising money for the Kootenay Regional Hospital and being named as the WHL Doug Wickenheiser award as humanitarian of the year in 2009.
Fraser followed that up with a second strong AHL season, scoring another 33 goals in 62 games in 2012-2013, and another 12 games in the big leagues where he scored 3 points including his first NHL goal against Nashville's goaltender Pekka Rinne.
What made Fraser a good pro bet was his ability to score goals. He was a smart and determined goal scorer with good size. He was a sturdy if not fast skater. He had a deceiving burst on his feet. His hands were the strength of his game, shooting with accuracy and a terrific release. He had strong power on his wrist shot and knew how to protect the puck from defenders.
Fraser's success did not ultimately land him a full time spot with the Dallas Stars, but it still paid off well for the organization. In July 2013 Fraser was part of a blockbuster trade seeing himself, Loui Eriksson, Joe Morrow and Reilly Smith traded to Boston for Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley, and Ryan Button. What a trade!
Unfortunately Fraser never could stick with the Bruins either. He played 38 games (scoring 5 goals - he also scored a playoff overtime goal against Montreal in his very first Stanley Cup playoff game) over the next two seasons before being exposed on waivers with the intent of returning him to the AHL.
The Edmonton Oilers picked up Fraser on waivers, and were rewarded with 5 goals in 36 games in what proved to Fraser's only full NHL season.
Despite sticking in the league the whole year, the Oilers let Fraser's contract expire and he became an unrestricted free agent. He signed with the Winnipeg Jets organization, but never played for the big club.
Unable to find another NHL shot, Matt Fraser headed to Europe to extend his career, mostly in Austria.