MLHS Player Reviews turns to one of the newest in the blue and white, fourth line tough guy Frazer McLaren. Like a lot of Leafs, 2013 was something of a banner year for the Winnipeg native statistically. He reached career highs in games played (36), goals (three), and penalty minutes (102). Of his three goals, two were – astoundingly – game winners; one of those was actually pretty nifty, too.
But that’s not why Dave Nonis picked McLaren up off of waivers on January 31, 2013. He was brought to fight often and win, and he did just that for the Toronto Maple Leafs this season.
Despite playing a very limited 5:12 minutes of ice a night, McLaren was second on the team and fifth in the league with 12 fights this season. According to www.hockeyfights.com, McLaren won eight of his bouts, and a quick search of YouTube will show you that his victories were often of the devastating variety.
Much of his martial prowess stems from his behemoth 6’5”, 230 lb. frame and great reach. Even against the league’s heavyweights, he possessed a distinct size advantage in most fights and an absolutely vicious right hand. He fought a wide variety of challengers, from noted combatants Chris Thorburn, Matt Carkner and John Scott, to useful, everyday hockey players like the Habs’ Josh Gorges and Brandon Prust.
He’s also a bit of a bully in scrums, using his massive wingspan and great strength to cause havoc for smaller opposition. And I am perfectly alright with most his post-whistle intimidation and agitation tactics, because if he’s going to take as many penalties as he does, he might as well try to bring somebody off with him.
Despite the seemingly contentious nature given the Leafs statistically implausible season, I’m still regarding a lot of the underlying statistics as significant when analysing any player’s season. As such, there’s not a lot to like when taking a peek at McLaren’s numbers outside of fighting. He’s a fighter, not a player.
Even in his extremely limited role as an enforcer, his -27.45 mark is the second worst Corsi score of any Leaf player – after Jay McClement. The main difference is that McClement was skating against some of the league’s best at directing the puck towards the net, whereas McLaren faced some of the most sheltered and soft minutes. No Leaf had a higher percentage of their starts in the offensive zone (indeed, no Leaf other than him and Colton Orr took more than half their draws in the oppositions’ zone). He was also unable to generate any offense while playing against other fourth liners and fringe NHLers, because he’s a fringe NHLer himself.
This passes the eye test. Despite having some of the most favourable line match ups, and some of the most advantageous zone starts, the puck was considerably more likely to be in the Leafs end with McLaren on the ice the season. Were it not for his .935 on-ice save percentage – the second best mark on the team after Orr – his on-ice deficiencies would have been even more notable.
The truest condemnation of McLaren’s overall skillset as an NHLer is that he was sat during the Eastern Conference Quarter Finals match up against the Boston Bruins, despite his role in the regular season. He featured in only one game, and appeared ill-suited to the pace of the post. Coach Randy Carlyle couldn’t rely on McLaren to provide much more than violence, which is easier to dole out in the regular season. When it mattered, McLaren was no real help on the ice.
McLaren is a restricted free agent this July, and according to James Mirtle and Jonas Siegel almost assuredly getting re-signed this offseason. That isn’t particularly distressing to me, as he is a willing and winning pugilist and gives Phil Kessel a new best friend once Tyler Bozak signs in Calgary for a hilarious sum.
What is distressing is that both Mirtle and Siegel agreed Orr would be re-signed as well. The Leafs have a real opportunity to improve their roster this offseason, and it seems imprudent to carry two enforcers. This is especially true given the minimal overall effect of fighting on winning games. Though I’d say the team needs neither, if you held a gun to my head and made me choose, I’d take him over Orr. If you need good goons to protect yourself from bad goons, it’s this simple: McLaren bigger, younger, scarier and doesn’t have the same concussion history as Orr.
Plays of the Season:
Gotta admit, those were some pretty quick hands in tight. The goal also eventually stood up as the game winner, the first of a surprising number of wins against the Bruins in 2013.
McLaren drops the gloves with Josh Gorges, The most amazing part of this video is McLaren’s maniacal laughter while he’s pounding the significantly smaller Gorges into a bloody pulp. Terrifying, really.
Frazer McLaren demos Dave Dziurzynski with an atomic right less than 30 seconds into the first period against the Senators. Though it’s a bit of a scary moment, it’s also a prime example of McLaren’s pugilistic prowess. He can and will implode faces.
RATE THIS PLAYER: Out of 10, rate Frazer McLaren’s season relative to his role, opportunity/usage and the expectations for the player entering the season. Be sure to back it up.
i cant even imagine grabo as our best face off guy with kadri behind him... watch it wont happen i promise it
if im nonis im tading grabo to nash who likes him.. for magnus hellberg.. a sick goalie prospect and their 3rd round pick 64th... good deal
if im nonis im trying to trade grado at all costs. i know this will seperate the room... but bozak is more important to us 100%
if i was nonis i would trade grabo to nashville fore their 3rd pick.. 64th and magus hellberg.. a goalie they took in the 2nd round not to long ago... had really good stats in the A. what do you guys think? its known nashvlle likes grabo
I'll give Frazer an 8 out of 10 for doing what he was brought in to do. That said, I hope we only have room for one of Frazer or Colton next year. If we can get Clarkson, we won't need both for sure.
May not be a popular sentiment around here, but Chara is the real MVP of the league and has been for several years
Tuukka is an RFA this year and I hope he puts it to bruins and their salary cap.
Bergeron and Seidenberg are UFA next year so they will diminish.
Goaltending hasn't been too bad this series, so what do the Penguins need?
- A coach like Carlyle who is able to make lineup changes to set the team up to win
- Some grit and team attitude to create space for the penguins forwards.
- Speed for faster forecheck and zone transition
- A puck mover defender to improve breakouts though they don't get hemmed in too often
Where was this questioning of the officiating when we had to deal with Boston being allowed to do whatever they want?
Who is this "Sequin" kid? He's fucking terrible
If you're going to look at one defensemen that Nonis probably really wants to get his hands on, and would actually part with a couple prospects and a 1st round pick + roster player to get, I would say that guy is Alexander Edler. That's his draft pick, and a guy he saw come of age.
Anyone else confused by the stars acquiring Gonchars rights? Aren't they supposed to be rebuilding? Does this make it more likely for them to move Robidas who would be a perfect trade target for us?
What a terrible waste of assets Shero's deadline looks like now. Basically gave up:
1st round pick 2013
2nd round pick 2013
2nd round pick 2014
And all they will have to show for it is a 3rd round pick this year...
Harder to evaluate McLaren since we had no expectations of him at the beginning of the year. Did his job as well or better than could have been expected but a 5 minute a game player can't get higher than a 6 from me. However, because we have been lacking testosterone etc. etc. for so long he gets an extra .5 for a total grade of 6.5.
Next year we need him without Orr for 25- 35 games.
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I give McLaren a 6.
Some have cited the Bruins as evidence of what the presence of enforcers can do.. what enforcers? Have you been watching how Shawn Thornton and Dan Paille have played? Orr and McLaren cannot do that.
Anyways, I don't think I saw a reduction in cheap shots at our star players.. maybe there was an intimidation factor at play though that helped the team play bigger. Tough to say. I would have just one of Orr or McLaren on my roster and it would be McLaren on acct of his superior skill.
Orr and McLaren did have more good shifts on the forecheck than is given credit, I must say.
My head hurts now from reading some of the convos that went down here this afternoon. Mr. & Mrs. Fenton, I don't know where you are, but you should have been keeping a better on eye on baby as it appears he spent a large portion of his childhood eating paint chips.
Stars have acquired Sergei Gonchar from Ottawa for a sixth round pick. Lots of talk he'll go to KHL