by PuckStopsHere on 03/03/13 at 07:22 PM ET
One of the big surprises this season is that Mark Fraser of the Toronto Maple Leafs leads the NHL in +/- rating with a +15 rating. It's a bit of a surprise that Fraser is not in the AHL and has a regular NHL job. He is a defenceman who played only four games outside the AHL last season.
In fact before this year, Fraser had 98 NHL games played over the course of four seasons. His only full NHL season occurred in 2009/10, when he played 61 games for the New Jersey Devils. Fraser had been traded to Toronto last season for Dale Mitchell after he had a brief stop in Anaheim.
For the large part Fraser has played a protected role in Toronto this season. He has played against relatively poor competition in somewhat limited minutes and with strong teammates. I think the circumstance of Fraser's play is a better explanation for his top +/- rating than his play itself. However Fraser has looked like he belongs in the NHL. Whether he will continue to succeed if he plays a tougher role is still an open question.
Mark Fraser leads the NHL in +/- rating so far this season. That is one of the more surprising numbers so far this season. It is a sign that Fraser has been solid so far this season but his league leading +/- is largely due to the fact that he has been protected in his usage so far this season. I think Toronto will give him a bigger role as the season progresses and it will be interesting to see how well he handles it.
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