Wings catch fifth-round pick Cole Fraser off guard
Chicago — Cole Fraser figured he had a minute while there was a time out called by a team in the fifth round of the NHL Entry Draft on Saturday.
So, Fraser headed to the bathroom.
Just as he was getting out, he heard his name called by the Red Wings.
“I thought I might have some time to go to the washroom,” said Fraser, a rugged 6-foot-2 stay-at-home defensive defenseman from Peterborough in the Ontario Hockey League. “I ran back real quick and I got stuck going down the steps.”
Fraser said his mom told him he better get down to the Red Wings’ table quick, which he did.
“You can’t get your hopes up too much,” Fraser said. “I was hoping to get my name called. It was something I can’t even imagine.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect today. Just being able to walk down and get picked into the NHL, it’s something I couldn’t even dream about.”
Fraser, incidentally, has a current teammate who was also drafted Saturday by the Red Wings.
Center Zach Gallant was picked in the third round. Both played with the Petes last season and will be teammates again this fall.
“We’re pretty close,” Fraser said. “We used to drive to school together every day last season. We have a good friendship.”
Gallant is a two-way forward, who improved his offensive capabilities in the last two years in Peterborough.
The Toronto native was thrilled to be joining the Red Wings.
“I met with the Red Wings at the combine and had a great conversation,” Gallant said. “This is one of the best days of my life. To be drafted by the Red Wings, it’s unbelievable and I’m real excited.
“The Red Wings are a fun team to watch. It was a tough year last year but they’ll be good again here soon.”
Coach Jeff Blashill said he hasn’t spoken to goaltender Petr Mrazek or any of the players the Red Wings left unprotected last week during the expansion draft.
“I know Kenny (general manager Ken Holland) talked to each guy before we exposed the list,” Blashill said. “I’m sure Kenny will talk to each guy. My conversations will be closer to camp. I don’t believe in spending a lot of time in the past.
“If there are explanations that are warranted I’ll have certainly have conversations, I believe in communication.
“I’m sure Kenny will have conversations from his end and I’ll have them from my end.”
Holland did not talk to the media this weekend.
Blashill said he did speak with forward Tomas Nosek, who was picked by Vegas in the expansion draft.
“I like Tomas a lot, he’ll be a good NHL player,” Blashill said. “He’s real versatile. I talked to him on the phone after he was drafted and he was shocked, caught a bit off guard. He wanted to be a Red Wing. But he’s excited about his new opportunity.
“We were going to lose a good player and we did in Tomas.”
Blashill caught many of the Grand Rapids Griffins’ games on their way to winning the Calder Cup.
Blashill felt one player who helped his cause to move up to the Red Wings next season is forward Tyler Bertuzzi.
“He’s somebody that looks like he’s really on the verge of becoming a real good NHL player,” Blashill said. “He has a lot of the qualities we don’t have. He’s hard and he has skill.
“Now, he has to put himself into position to grab a spot and make our team better.”