He has something of a track record against good players.
What He Said
Jason Gregor had a nice piece on Fayne a couple of days ago, and he included some quotes from the defenceman which were revealing.
Particularly interesting to me was his comment on the matchups he faces:
Over the past few years I’ve developed into more of a stay home, shutdown guy playing against tougher opposition on a nightly basis. I think I’ve done my best when I am challenged the most, and I have to be aware of who is on the ice at all times. It’s a good challenge that I like taking on.
Sometimes, players say things that don’t check out when you dig into the data. In this case, Fayne may well have understated things.
Fayne’s played in the Eastern Conference for his entire career, but even so his most frequent 25 opponents feature some of the game’s biggest names. Fayne’s been on the ice against John Tavares more than against any other player in the league. Claude Giroux ranks third, Eric Staal fourth. Other notables include James Neal, Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, Alex Ovechkin, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin, Marian Gaborik and Tyler Seguin.
It’s a pretty impressive group.
Fayne’s posted a positive Corsi against that list of 25, nearly three full percentage points better than the average opponent those players face (and keep in mind that as a rule they’ll have been playing against good defencemen).
It’s not all him. He played most frequently with Andy Greene and Henrik Tallinder, and he played on a New Jersey Devils team that more often than not has been a strong club during his tenure.
Now, he’ll play with an Edmonton Oilers club that has no recent history of success. There is no Greene or younger version of Tallinder to be his partner; he’s likely either getting a second-tier veteran (Nikita Nikitin or Andrew Ference) or a rookie still finding his way in the majors.
But the key point here is that Oilers aren’t bringing somebody in to play a role he hasn’t had success in before. Fayne’s spent significant time assigned to some of the toughest matchups in the league, and he’s done a nice job in the role. This could be a major add for Edmonton.
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