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With Contract Signed, Fraser Ready to Move Forward

by Jess Isner / Boston Bruins - It has been a long summer for Matt Fraser.

To begin, there was the broken foot to deal with, stemming from an injury he sustained at the very beginning of last year's Providence playoff run, and an injury he played through from the time he was called up from Providence to the moment the Bruins' season ended at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens in the middle of May.

In addition to rehabbing that right foot after surgery, the restricted free agent spent the summer waiting to re-sign with Boston, and as of Friday, the waiting is over. Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced that the club has signed the 24-year-old forward to a one-year, two-way deal.

"It's nice to get it done and know that you have a job," Fraser told reporters after Friday's informal skate at Ristuccia Arena. "It gives you just a little more incentive to work harder and everything like that, so it's definitely nice to get it done."

The 2013-14 season brought about a plethora of changes for Fraser, most of them welcome. At the beginning of last summer, he was traded to Boston as part of a blockbuster deal with the Dallas Stars. He spent the bulk of the year in Providence but received a couple of recalls and played a total of 14 games with the big Bruins, registering two goals.

He also had the opportunity to join the Bruins during their second-round playoff series against Montreal -- and nobody around these parts will forget the instrumental role he played in a critical Game 4 win at the Bell Centre. That fateful night, the game-winning overtime goal came off Fraser's stick, and with that crucial momentum swing, he sent the B's back to Boston with the series tied at 2-2.

But as Fraser reiterated over and over, that was then, and this is now. Now, he is continuing to work himself up to speed after spending the summer rehabbing his foot. He had a plate and six screws inserted in it shortly after the season ended, but he said that aside from the nasty scar the surgery left behind, he barely even notices a difference.

"I haven't had any problems with [the foot]," Fraser said. "I took all the precautions with it, took my time and came back to Boston for a couple of days in the summer just to get it looked at and reevaluated. But everything's been good with it, and they're going to keep the plate in. I haven't had any problems with it, or setbacks, so it shouldn't be a problem."

Of course, the broken foot did get in the way a bit earlier in the offseason -- off the ice.

"I bought a house back home [in Alberta], and all my buddies had to move all the furniture in," he said with a laugh. "So that was a good thing. But workouts, it kind of took a while to get things going, especially for my lower body. But my upper body's strong. I've been working hard at it. Now that I can work out my lower body, I've been doing it for about a month."

Fraser also started skating about a month ago and said that ever since he's been back on the ice, the foot has felt fine. With the injury out of sight and out of mind, that leaves him with one objective to focus on: making the team out of camp.

Fraser admitted to keeping up with media reports. He knows that the Bruins expect to have a couple of vacancies at forward heading into this season, and he has his sights set on claiming one of those spots. While skating with the junior team back home in Alberta, he even made sure to spend the bulk of his time skating on the right side, since that is where the Bruins anticipate the holes will be.

He also made sure to arrive in Boston a little bit earlier than he did last year. The more comfortable he is with his surroundings -- and with the rest of the players -- the better he expects he will perform at camp.

"Just to be back early, it gives you a little bit of familiarity around here, and just to reacquaint yourself with how everything runs," he said. "I want to make this team. I feel like I've done what I can in the summer to prepare my body and prepare myself to do that.

"The more time you spend here, you're more familiar with everything. You're more comfortable getting in that comfort zone to get that shot away. If you're going down the ice with [Patrice Bergeron] or someone, you're kind of nervous -- you don't want to screw it up for anyone. But just getting familiar with everyone and getting familiar with how things run around here makes you more comfortable on the ice to play how I need to play."

Last year, Fraser admitted to getting caught up in his nerves a bit. Now that he knows what to expect, and what is expected of him, he will not allow himself to fall victim to the same jitters.

"I think everyone's a little guilty of [getting nervous], and myself, too," he said. "I'm very critical of myself, and this is the big leagues. Everyone's critical of you, and everyone's got something to say, so I think at the end of the day, you just got to control what you can control and do your thing."

Already, this year's preamble to training camp is far easier than it was last year -- not only because Fraser has a couple of recalls under his belt, but also because he's no longer a Dallas transplant.

"I was just thinking about it today -- last year at this time, when I drove in, this was all so unfamiliar," he said. "Now, you walk in here and you know everyone's names and you're familiar with the faces, so it definitely allows you to relax a little bit, allows you to be more comfortable, and hopefully that translates to on the ice."

As tempting as it is to look back to last year's successes for inspiration, Fraser is determined to keep his eyes on the prize: the future. And as magical as it was, that means no more reminiscing about that scintillating overtime goal at the Bell Centre in Game 4.

That was then, and this is now. The more time he spends reminiscing about the past, the less time he has to focus on recreating that magic in the future.

"It was something neat, it was something exciting, and I'll never forget it," Fraser said. "But at the same time, the books are closed on last year. I'm moving on from it. I'm taking what I can learn from it, and what I can gain from it, and moving forward."

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