Fayne Struggling

In August we asked if Fayne could make the jump to a pairing with Sekera. The Oilers had added to their potential top four defenders by signing
Sekera in free agency but the gaping hole on the right side left by the Petry
trade meant someone had to step up. How’s it going so far? Well…

First, let’s revisit the logic behind pairing Fayne with
Sekera. The fit seemed natural enough that the new coaching staff put the two
of them together to start the year. Fayne’s resume has suggested that he could
have been a solid foil for another top four defender. In the very recent past he
was a regular partner for some of New Jersey’s best defensemen.

He had spent a significant amount of time as a Devil playing
with Andy Greene in a pretty substantial role. Still, I wrote this about the
potential pairing of Sekera-Fayne:

Fayne with the Devils had a solid track record in regards to
possession and he played with some talented defenders. But even still his coach
wasn’t playing him step for step with them. If we assume that New Jersey was
competently deploying their defense over that period of time then we should
also assume that Fayne likely won’t play in lock-step with Sekera. Given what
we know about Fayne’s offensive shortcomings it is probably safe to assume that
in certain situations the Oilers might find it more beneficial to spot in
Sekera with someone like Schultz when they feel they need to score. That might
not be a sound idea, but it would be understandable.

What I was expecting from Fayne was competent but
unspectacular play as the number four defender for the Oilers. After what I had
seen a year ago and what he had accomplished in the past I was comfortable
believing he could do that. What I’ve seen so far has not been satisfactory,
and it’s hard to imagine that the coaching staff doesn’t feel the same way.

I say that because right now Mark Fayne has fallen to dead
last among Edmonton’s eight defenders in average Time On Ice (TOI) per game. Sure, he’s
played in all of the games so far while Reinhart, Ference, and Davidson have
been rotating in, but the coaching staff doesn’t trust him very much.

Even with the third most minutes on the PK (1:58
per game) he is only averaging a total of 14:56 per game in this young season.
At Even-Strength he has only been trusted out there to the tune of 12:54 per
game. For reference, Rookie Griffin Reinhart is averaging almost 17 minutes a
night at Even-Strength.

Fayne and Sekera are still getting a heavier percentage of defensive zone starts than the other pairings, but they continue to lose the
possession battle to a much larger degree than the other pairings. The
fancystats community acknowledges there’s a link between zone starts and
possession, but it’s not as big as one might expect. Fayne and Sekera just aren’t
getting the job done well enough.

Downward Trend Graph 1

If this trend continues then it won’t be long before Mark
Fayne finds himself in the rotation for the 6th defenseman and off
of the pairing with Sekera.

From where I sit, the Oilers need to find a better option in
the 4D spot. Reinhart has played the right side in the past. Sekera too has
played on his off-side. The Oilers have internal options to replace Fayne but
it will require someone to play in their unnatural position.

I was hoping for more from Mark Fayne to start the year. I haven’t
been underwhelmed, I’ve been shocked at just how poor he’s been. He has a
difficult time exiting his own zone via any other means than up the boards and
out in an uncontrolled hope-for-the-best area pass. In his own zone it was
pointed out to me (and now I can’t un-see it) that he has extreme difficulty
taking away passing options. Whether it’s in 2v1s or any other scenario cross
seam passes go right by him on a very regular basis.

I expect difficulty from the new faces to the Oilers early
in the season. This is Fayne’s second season with the Oilers and he should
ideally not be struggling this badly.

  • CornDogsBruh

    I wasn’t sure about the signing at the time and I don’t like it now. If you can’t move the puck in today’s NHL you are a 7th or 8th d-man at best. Add the fact that there is no physical element to his game and we are looking at another buyout waiting to happen.

  • CornDogsBruh

    I look at this site just about every day. I’d like to read one article about how certain players are exceeding expectations (preferably for more than a 1-2 game stretch). Is that unreasonable?

    Talbot has played well, but given he was the top target for available goals, he is meeting expectations, even if he doesn’t have any wins. McDavid has shown flashes, but he isn’t exceeding any expectations. Sekara, meh. Powerplay guru….still waiting. Underperforming…just about everyone else.

    • billythebullet

      I think part of the problem is expectations. The Oilers bring in mediocre talent from other teams, and for some reason the team (and fans) think that mediocre player will suddenly transform into a good or great player.

  • Boom76

    Our forwards need quality D to clear the zone and feed their speed. It’s just not there… ever.

    Package Yakupov + Purcell — OR — Hall for a Seth Jones, Justin Faulk, Morgan Reilley or Jacob Trouba and some picks. Let’s get this done already.

    • Admiral Ackbar

      Why does OilerNation seem to think that #1 Dmen or Dmen of that pedigree are available in a trade? They’re one of the most sought after commodities in hockey. Forwards are not.

      • Admiral Ackbar

        It has been ten years since the Oil have been remotely competitive; OEL and Seth Jones need to be traded to Edmonton in horribly lopsided deals so the re-build will be sped up.

        (Completely unrealistic outside of NHL ’16, I know.)

      • BobbyCanuck

        This type of trade will be a lot more doable in the next off season or towards the trade deadline look for a seller, cause that pick it may be for the generational talent Austin Mattews

      • Hockey Buddha

        Agreed. #1 defenseman are difficult to obtain and usually only come available when they are young and struggling or well past their prime. I think that the only position more coveted by teams are #1 centres. Trades do become possible when teams have a glut of defensive depth and lack offensively, then you may be able to spring a player who has #1 potential. The Pronger to Edmonton trade, for example, was a rarity for obvious reasons. Chiarelli will wait and pounce if one becomes available at a reasonable cost.

        I really think that Nurse may become that player for Edmonton, once he develops fully. Klefbom could be as well. Edmonton also has a pool of young talent to trade from, should a team make one available.

  • BobbyCanuck

    Just wanted to point out that you mention breaking up Fayne and Sekera when the oilers need a goal and having shultz play with Sekera in these situations.

    Then you tell us about how his even strength minutes are the lowest on the team and he may become the 6th dman.

    We have lost every game and in a majority of the games we are looking to catch up and need a goal or 2. To me this means Fayne gets pulled from Sekera and his minutes drop because of the situation in the game. If we happened to be winning these games and defending a lead I think you see his ice time go up and we aren’t talking about him as a number 6 dman. It kinda plays against your earlier point.

    He may be struggling some but it’s kinda early to lump him in with the other dmen as a number 6-8 guy.

  • BobbyCanuck

    Concerning Fayne

    Interesting interview with Jagr a few days ago, he was talking about how veteran players on secure contracts vs. rookies trying to make the big team behave.

    He said vets usually take about the first 15 games to get going, his rationale was that experience players want to start hitting thier seasonal peak performance around game 65 or so, that way they are in top form going into the play-offs

    Rookies need to peak in training camp, so they can show the best in the hopes of sticking around.

    I have no idea what the point I am trying to make, maybe give the vets a chance to get into form?

  • billythebullet

    Fayne was always invisible. Not always a bad thing as a defenseman. He has never played big minutes. I’m not surprised with his minutes. I know it’s a small sample size so far but in the early going it appears Petry > Sekera. Oilers d still a complete mess.