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2010 NHL Free Agency: Devils, Mark Fraser reach deal, will NJ utilize buyout window?

Jul 28, 2010, 11:15 AM EDT

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fraserpunching.jpgIn yet another move to avoid salary arbitration, the New Jersey Devils signed young defenseman Mark Fraser to a one-year, one-way contract worth $500K according to Tom Gulitti. With all due respect to Fraser, the signing might be most interesting because it gives the Devils a new 48-hour buyout window; some wonder if the team might take advantage of that opportunity to clear up space for an eventual Ilya Kovalchuk contract.

Gulitti asked Devils GM Lou Lamoriello if he’d exercise that option, but “Loophole Lou” didn’t seem interested in sharing his plans.

Devils GM Lou Lamoriello would not discuss whether he will utilize second buyout window (following Fraser signing) to clear cap space.

As you may know, buying out a player is far from a cure-all since there are still salary cap repercussions and a general manager must also face the embarrassment of essentially paying a player not to perform for his team.

Moving on, Gulitti provides a little bit of background on Mark Fraser.

Fraser also made $500,000 in 2009-10, but had a two-way contract. He was willing to take a one-year, low-paying deal in order to get the security of a one-way contract, with the hope of further establishing himself as an NHL regular in the upcoming season.

Lamoriello was pleased with the progess Fraser made in his first full season in the NHL in 2009-10. Fraser, who will turn 24 on Sept 29, had three goals, three assists, 36 penalty minutes and had a plus-3 defensive rating in 61 games. Former Devils coach Jacques Lemaire tried to bring the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Ottawa native along slowly, limiting his ice time to 12:22.

After the Devils added Martin Skoula in a trade and Paul Martin returned from injury, Fraser ended up as a healthy scratch for 13 of the final 19 regular season games and played in only one of the team’s five playoff games.

Could the Devils end up buying someone out in the next two days? Lamoriello isn’t tipping his hand on that one, but if he does, we’ll let you know.

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