The Edmonton Oilers on Sunday recalled defenceman Mark Fayne from Bakersfield of the AHL. Fayne played five games for the Condors, recording an assist, four penalty minutes and an even rating.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) December 20, 2015
Fayne was undeniably terrible in his last game at the NHL level, playing just eight mistake-filled minutes against the Dallas Stars. The rest of his track record is a little more mixed. He’s had his critics and not without cause, but it’s undeniable that the Oilers have had better success in terms of both shots and goals with him in a tough minutes role with Andrej Sekera than they have with Darnell Nurse in that same spot.
Brandon Davidson left Saturday’s game against the Avalanche after taking a nasty cross-check from Colorado’s Blake Comeau and then falling awkwardly into the boards. This may be an indication that he will miss an extended period of time. If so, it’s a major loss for the Oilers, who have been blessed with shockingly polished two-way play from the rookie defenceman.
Jack Michaels, however, has another possible interpretation.
My hunch is Davidson, while undoubtedly sore, tries to play tomorrow. Fayne may be in for someone else. https://t.co/bCDu6diMCk
— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) December 20, 2015
The obvious “someone else” is Justin Schultz, who like Fayne plays on the right side of the ice. Schultz made two brutal mistakes last night, both of which ended up in the back of Edmonton’s net. Todd McLellan and company have shown a refreshing lack of regard for “veteran status” and certainly won’t be uncomfortable scratching Schultz if they feel it’s warranted.
There’s certainly a case to be made that Schultz deserves to be scratched for a game, but it’s worth keeping in mind that he brings a puck-moving dimension that will be in short supply with Oscar Klefbom on the shelf and Davidson’s status uncertain.
It’s also worth noting that Eric Gryba was quietly almost as bad against the Avs as Schultz was, with the key difference being that Schultz’s mistakes ended up in the back of the net while his (mostly) did not.
Fayne is under contract for two seasons after this one at a $3.625 million cap hit, meaning that the Oilers have a level of commitment to him that they don’t have to Schultz, Gryba, Nikita Nikitin or Andrew Ference.
Things would be a lot easier for general manager Peter Chiarelli if he could capture the trust of Edmonton’s coaching staff.
Fayne is only 28 years old. This is a player who in his second season in the NHL averaged better than 20 minutes per game and played every night for a team that went to the Stanley Cup Final. There’s a competent NHL player in there, and somehow he needs to prove it to the coaches.
Now would be a good time.