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By the Numbers Prospects: Cole Fraser

Injuries slowed the development of punishing defenseman

by Arthur J. Regner @ArthurJRegner /

By the Numbers will highlight the on-ice accomplishments in the 2017-18 season for the Detroit Red Wings' prospects. Twice a week during the offseason, By the Numbers will profile a different player in the system, focusing on his statistical highs. This week we focus on defenseman Cole Fraser.

When Cole Fraser was drafted by the Red Wings in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Detroit officials were upfront as to why they selected the 6-foot-2, 200-pound defenseman - he's a physical player who plays with an edge.

Fraser will likely never blossom into an offensive juggernaut and that's fine with the Wings. He's slated to become Detroit's equalizer when the game turns to rough-and-tumble hockey.

Not only does Fraser like to mix it up, he's proven to be fearless.

Whether he's playing for the Peterborough Petes in the OHL or in last year's Prospect Tournament, he will never back down from any challenge.

A perfect example of Fraser's sheer toughness occurred in Traverse City during the 2017 Prospect Tournament.

Detroit's prospects were pitted against the St. Louis Blues prospects in the last game of the tournament for both clubs.

The Blues' Michael McKee, a former Wings draft pick, invited Fraser to drop the gloves, which he willingly obliged.

What ensued was a spirited match with the 24-year-old McKee, who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 250 pounds, landing the bout's first two heavy punches to Fraser's face.

Undaunted, the 18-year-old countered with his own barrage of solid punches, connecting against the older, taller and heavier McKee.

What could have been a bloody mess for Fraser turned out to be a draw with the crowd giving both combatants a rousing ovation as they skated to the penalty box.

It was a brief glimpse of what the future may hold for Detroit fans with Fraser in the lineup: light on skill, heavy on the wallop.

50 - Through suspension and injuries, Fraser appeared in only 50 games of Peterborough's 68-game schedule. It was the second time during his Petes career that he played in 50 regular season games. As an OHL rookie in 2015-16, he also played in 50 games. In 2016-17, Fraser played in a career-high 61 games for Peterborough.

3 - Number of goals he scored. Fraser scored a career-best six goals for the Petes the previous season.

8 - Total number of assists he accumulated, which was five fewer than the 13 he notched during the 2016-17 campaign.

11 - Fraser's point total. He amassed 19 in the 2016-17 season, which remains his career high.

-8 - He was minus-8, which was the second highest for his OHL career. Fraser was minus-12 as a rookie and plus-4 in 2016-17.

70 - Fraser's 70 penalty minutes was tops on the Petes, the second season in a row he has led his team in penalty minutes. His career high was 82 penalty minutes, reached in 2016-17.

131 - The Red Wings selected Fraser in the fifth round, 131st overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. In the same draft, the Wings chose Fraser's Peterborough teammate, center Zach Gallant, in the third round, 83rd overall.

10 - A superstitious individual, Fraser sets 10 different alarms to wake him on game days, he tapes his stick a certain way and at a specific time and he also puts on all his left side equipment first.

Quotable: "He was like a lot of our players, he missed time with injuries. He received a big hit two-thirds of the way through the season and the player that hit him was suspended 10 games. So, he missed a big chunk of the second half and it didn't leave a good taste in his mouth as he finished on an injury. It was an in-between year for him because he was in and out of the lineup with injuries. We have a new coach and the way he wants the D to play, it's going to fit Cole nicely. He's a big, strong, good-skating defenseman. We want the D to play up ice and be physical, which is right in Cole's wheelhouse. We expect him to have a pretty good year. We expect him and Zach (Gallant) to be 19-year-old leaders on the team going forward." - Andrew Verner, Peterborough Petes assistant coach (interim head coach last year from January-April).

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