The Remarkable Story of Taylor Fedun

 

Two games into his NHL career, Taylor Fedun has scored two goals for the Edmonton Oilers.

It’s a phenomenal start for any rookie, but Fedun’s case is made even more remarkable by the brutal injury he suffered the last time he was on the verge of making the Oilers, an injury that cost him a full season and could have claimed his hockey career.

The Injury

We’ve all seen the video.

Taylor Fedun had come out of nowhere to make a real case for himself as an NHL option for the 2011-12 Oilers; it seems safe to say he either would have made the team or been a reasonably quick call-up after the training camp he had and given the other options in the system. Instead, a fantastic opportunity was taken away on a pointless play.

It cost Fedun one full season, and then much of the next one as he got himself back up to speed. Todd Nelson, Fedun’s coach in Oklahoma City. gave us a window into Fedun’s play in a December 3, 2012 interview on Oilers Now:

[Fedun]’s been pretty solid. You can see, if we have a stretch of games where it’s pretty busy, he does get a bit fatigued just because of the mechanics with his leg and that. When Taylor’s fresh he’s very effective. Obviously we’re dealing with a player who went through a lot, and I think he’s made tremendous strides. I think right now he’s a step away from where he was last year before he got injured, but that’s going to come over time.

Nelson went on to list some of the things Fedun had to work on – not getting tunnel vision offensively, boxing guys out defensively – but reiterated that the coaching staff was pretty happy with his play. But even in December Fedun’s skating wasn’t where it had been pre-injury, and he would spend most of the year getting back to where he had been,

Present Day

 

Fedun has been a reliable defenceman in Oklahoma City this season, playing with different partners in different situations but delivering the same level of play seemingly every night. I’ve been tracking some statistics I put a lot of weight on at home games this year, and by those numbers Fedun stands out:

  • On-ice Fenwick (shots and missed shots) plus/minus: +77/-53
  • Zone Starts: 22 offensive zone, 42 defensive zone

To put those numbers in an easily understandable form: Fedun has been leaned on heavily in a shutdown role, taking to the ice a lot of times when the puck is 200 feet from the opposition net. Despite that, The Barons have out-shot their opposition by nearly a 3:2 margin with Fedun on the ice in the seven games I tracked.

The early NHL results have been awfully encouraging, too, even beyond the two goals. With Fedun on the ice, the Oilers have 15 scoring chances at even-strength over the last two games, as compared to just three against. Granted, he’s in a third-pairing role and playing old Southeast Division opponents, but that’s awfully impressive. Nick Schultz, his partner so far, was arguably on the upswing before Fedun’s arrival but the two have had instant chemistry on a blue line that needs exactly that.

This is what a player winning an NHL job looks like. Injuries or poor play open the door a crack, and the player forces the issue not by being just okay but by being so good that he can’t be ignored. Mark Arcobello did it earlier in the year, and Taylor Fedun’s doing it now. 

He (and Arcobello too, for that matter) has gone from the kind of player every fan pulls for because he’s a hard-luck story to the kind of player every fan pulls for because the team is better off with rather than without him. 

  • Bishai in the Benches

    We need more players to be taking notes from both Arco and Fedun. Hard work is what it takes to succeed in the NHL. Obviously every single player with the team is a hard worker, you don’t make the NHL coasting on skill alone, but the circumstances which brought both of these fine players to the league are entirely work based. Arcobello is leading all forwards on the oilers in hits. I know hits are a controversial stat, but if we take them at face value, it means Arcobello is playing with a reckless abandon, he isn’t scared and isn’t backing down. If Yakupov was playing a similar game to Arco, his name wouldnt be mentioned at all in trade rumours. We need a team full of guys like Fedun who will face adversity full on in the face, work their backs off, and have HOPE that there is more for them out there. I really respect both players, and truly believe that hockey games can be won based solely off of stubbornness and hard work, just look at the amount of skill on the Flames roster, versus their place in the standings. I hate the Flames, but they are a perfect example of a team that does all it can to win.

  • Spydyr

    No need to trade for a puck moving defenceman Fedun has that covered. Now trading for a tough hard hitting number one defenceman. Yes please, Anyone but Nuge or Hall for a true number one defenceman is what is needed.

  • GoofyGoon69

    Thanks for the optimistic piece today Willis. There’s a lot of gloom and doom lately.

    Having said that I can’t help look at Arcebello and Fedun and think, wow, we have two rookies, whom the Oilers developed in their own system, come up and play spectacular. Leterally doing everything the organization could have asked and then some. These are two guys who weren’t in the plans at all for the beginning of the season and here they are doing everything they can to prove they belong here. The rest of team, however, is not playing like they belong in the NHL. These rookies, like Gallager on Montreal, or Conchar on Tampa last year, are providing secondary scoring that the team didn’t count on going into the season. But instead of the rest of the team providing the scoring and defense typical of a team with “an embarrassment of riches upfront”, they are once again playing like they just don’t care. And that is sad. When Calgary puts out an AHL team and has more wins than us, that tells me one team is hungry to win, and another isn’t. Sure it has to be tough to need to score four or more goals to win every game, but comon.

  • Jordan1126

    Fedun is a very efficient hockey player…….makes the safe play and does not easily get rattled. I though the player that has most impressed is Philip Larsen.

    This guy is effective in spite of his size………and rarely has size been an issue when he is on the ice. He does not over power when he is defending, just takes his time getting the puck back using positioning and a very quick stick. I for one like big mean defensemen, but both Fedun and Larsen are changing my thinking a little. Don’t get me wrong, I would like both qualities in a defensemen, but being smart with the puck overrides being big and mean.

    So far Larsen looks like a keeper. On the other hand Dubnyk the Flubnyk has to go. Mr Big looks like a midget in net, right now I dont think he could stop a beach ball.

    Brutal!

  • pkam

    I remembered Fedun was doing very well in the preseason 3 years ago and in my opinion he was ahead of Potter for that last spot. But that unfortunate accident robbed him that opportunity and delayed his dream by at least 3 years.

    The most interesting thing is Nick Schultz hadn’t been playing as good for almost a year until he paired up with Fedun.

    I know it is only 2 games, but Nick Schultz and Fedun is the most solid 3rd pair we have in years. Hardly made any turnover, get out of the zone well, and both are helping the offense.

    The sad reality is Fedun will be the 1st one send down to OKC when J. Schultz or Belov returns. Now I want J. Schultz and Belov to stay in the IR longer.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    I’m as pumped as anyone about Fedun and Larsen but let’s hold judgment until they play the Kings, Sharks, Canucks, etc. FLA & TB aren’t exactly high pressure forecheck teams.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    Yes watching these two admirable young men (Fedun and Arcobello) is the best reason to follow the sad sack Oilers right now.

    what the hell is Eakins doing with Arcobello?

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    lets take it easy with the feel good stories right now, we can sip some hot chocolate and marvel at Fedun in the summer.

    The more urgent realization should be that Fedun is even on the team, tells you the calibre of our players (no offense to the nice boy)

    The oil have ZERO Intensity/Grit and I dont give a F** in their lineup….i REALLY hate to say this but the Calgary Lames play with more intensity and desire and compete.

    Shame on the Edm management. Except for Hall and Petry, every single player should be trade bait

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      Getting Seth Jones out of Nash somehow would make me a little giddy. Jones and Nurse, when both are of age, would make teams fear coming over the Oilers blue line.

      EDIT: Oops, was not supposed to be a reply

      • If The Oil didn’t win those 2 games at the end of the year , they would have been drafting Jones .
        Honestly , Forget about Jones and 2012/2013 .
        Let’s Concentrate on the now .
        The Oilers are tanking , so let’s suffer this year and than we shall be rewarded with Aaron Ekblad . Ekblad can step right into the lineup next year , along with Nurse .

  • Puck_In_Throat

    May I be so bold as to point out a trend?

    Players who have had to “earn” their spot after years in the minors (in general) play a complete game…

    Players who are given spots on the NHL team as teenagers (in general) have incomplete games…

    I wonder if Detroit is onto something by having ALL of its young players (no exceptions!) play in the AHL for a bit.

    • BLAKPOO

      Well, Danny Dekeyser plays for Detroit. He has also never played a game in the AHL.

      So much for that theory.

      If a player’s ready ( mentally and physically ) to take the leap, then they take the leap.

      I don’t think Crosby would be any better if he had spent time in the AHL.

  • ubermiguel

    T Fedun is getting results which is great to see. I really pull for the guy. His overall game is in the range of expectations for your first few NHL games, some kinks there still. What I really love about his game is the ability to think, while he’s shooting. Not just blindly blasting into shin pads. Change angles, shoot around players, look for the shot pass, pick the corners, etc. Can he please teach that to others on the team.

    P.S: Taylor Hall needs to work on his breakaways. He rarely scores on them. Great player, but that aspect needs work.

  • ubermiguel

    I also wonder what Eakins is doing with Arco. Considering his success in the circle and looking from a production standpoint: then bringing Gagne’s injury and the fact that I never “see” him out there into the picture, you’d think the wing is the spot for Gagne. I don’t know that EITHER is the solution long term, but short term I would think Arcobello is the right fit.

    Also, while he’s scored twice playing “wing”, I believe one was on the PP and one was 4 on 4, so the argument that he wasn’t scoring as a centre bears no weight.

  • BLAKPOO

    Dont think there isnt a fan not cheering for this guy, [ as well as Arco], .Fedun has a bit of work to do on his own end, but then again , name ONE Oiler D man thats not in this same boat.

    Fedun is not a kid amymore, but lacks NHL ice time. If he continues to improve this year, and I hope they keep him on the big team, he should be able to replace the elder Schultz next year.

    Still needs to work on his skating this summer and most of all, please go to the gym and throw on 12 lbs of muscle.

    Of the current Oiler D, 5 out of the 8 are under 200 lbs…. that aint going to work against the likes of LA, Sharks and Canucks in the Pacific Div.

  • ubermiguel

    I am very pleased to see both Fedun and Arcolello are getting the credit they deserves, because it wasn’t long ago when someone were trashing them in these parts, calling them ‘useless parts’, I was furious then to hear them say that ( Okay, maybe not in those exact words), but, to see you all give appreciation for their hard work, is so cool, keep it up, guys/gals!!!

  • ubermiguel

    I was just happy to see him make it to the NHL after all that he’s been through. Then he scores two goals and plays well in his first two games. He seems like the kind of steady eddy that any D corps can use.