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Fraser eager to return to Leafs, hoping Franson does same

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TSN.ca Staff
7/30/2013 4:19:18 PM
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Following the most productive season of his career, Mark Fraser said he was eager to get a deal in place with the Maple Leafs and hopes the team can do the same with his defensive partner, Cody Franson.

Speaking with Bryan Hayes and Jamie McLennan Tuesday afternoon on TSN 1050's Blue Lunch, the 26-year-old blueliner said the one-year, $1.275-million deal is something that works for both sides.

"I think both sides were happy that we didn't end up going down that road (an arbitration hearing) and we were able to agree with something before-hand," Fraser said. "I wanted to be back at a fair price, but so did they, so I actually look at that as sort of a compliment."

Coming off a season in which he was able to establish himself as a regular top-six defenceman for the first time in his career, the Ottawa native set career highs with eight points and 85 penalty minutes, while leading Toronto with a plus-18 rating.

"We felt like we had something really good last year and we wanted to maintain that and that was the message this morning as well," Fraser said.

Acquired from the Anaheim Ducks in February of 2012 for Dale Mitchell, Fraser developed a solid chemistry with Cody Franson, as the pairing was arguably Leafs most consistent throughout the season.

"It worked out great," Fraser said. "I loved having a partner over there that was actually maybe even a little bit bigger than I am, not afraid to play physical and very responsible with his puck movement. It just happened to be a really good fit."

Following the Fraser contract, Leafs GM Dave Nonis has around $4.9 million in cap space for his remaining restricted free agents, Franson and Nazem Kadri.

Nonis also has the option of a second buyout period which lasts for 48 hours, three days after the team's final arbitration case is settled, should the team choose to free up additional dollars.

"He's going through a similar thing," Fraser said of Franson's contract situation. "But for his sake and our team and myself, I really hope it can be sorted out because he's just a great asset and he helped me out a lot."

Forced to watch the Leafs final three playoff games from the sidelines after a scary incident in which he took a Milan Lucic shot to the forehead, Fraser said he should be 100 percent come training camp.

"I've been back to Toronto a couple of times throughout the summer for checkups. Probably about a month ago I was cleared to start training and a couple weeks ago I was cleared to start skating."

Joking that he was more upset that he turned the puck over and "it ended up in my face," Fraser commented on how his doctors told him it was "pretty miraculous" that he didn't suffer a more serious injury.

"The doctors were concerned about potential brain damage, but I actually didn't even have a concussion," Fraser said. "It took major surgery, but it actually could have been a lot worse."

Selected in the third round, 84th overall by the New Jersey Devils in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Fraser said there were no hard feelings between him and the Bruins winger and Lucic asked if Fraser was okay as he was being escorted out of the ACC  prior to overtime.

Despite the heartbreaking Game 7 loss to Boston, Fraser believes the Leafs are headed in the right direction and feels comfortable under head coach Randy Carlyle.

"I'm happy to play for a coach who believes in me and can give me the confidence and liberties to go out and play my way and play my style."



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