WWYDW: Mark Fayne, yea or nay?

5-Fayne-7

Mark Fayne is under contract for two seasons after this one at a cap hit of $3.625 million. This week’s edition of What Would You Do Wednesday asks our readers whether the Edmonton Oilers should try and trade the player away this summer rather than bringing him back for the third season of his four-year pact.

What, exactly, does Mark Fayne bring?

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That’s the question I generally get when I bring Fayne’s name up. He is, after all, not a puck-moving defenceman; his greatest successes in the NHL have come when he’s had a partner who he can defer to almost without exception in that regard. Nor is he a crash-and-bang blueliner. Despite excellent size he doesn’t light opponents up the way someone like Eric Gryba does.

Fayne is the least sexy player-type in hockey: the pure defensive defenceman. He can be trusted in any situation and against anyone and plays some of the toughest minutes in the game; despite this he keeps the bleeding to a minimum.

Consider quality of competition. War-on-Ice tracks two different metrics, one based on the ice-time of opponents and one based on their shot metrics. If we limit ourselves to defenceman with at least 300 minutes at even-strength this season (219, or roughly seven per team, have played that much) we can measure how tough Fayne’s minutes are compared to the rest of the league.

  • Quality of Competition (ice-time): 58th out of 219 (No. 2 defenceman)
  • Quality of Competition (Corsi): 10th out of 219 (No. 1 defenceman)

I tend to think that ice-time is a better indicator of opposition quality, but even by that metric Fayne has played top-pairing opponents this year. He’s also done it while starting a high percentage of his shifts in the defensive zone. Let’s look at where he ranks by zone-start percentage, again using War-on-Ice, and again among defencemen playing 300-plus minutes:

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  • Zone-Start percentage: 25th out of 219 (No. 1 defenceman)

Any consideration of Fayne’s performance divorced from the brutal minutes he played is inherently faulty. It’s hard to look like a good defencemen when starting in the defensive zone against good players; it’s hard to look like a good anything under those circumstances.

25-Nurse-4

And yet, Fayne’s performance really isn’t so bad. He’s on the ice for 12 high-danger chances against per hour, the lowest of any right-shooting regular on Edmonton’s blue line. Eric Gryba, who plays much softer minutes, is on the ice for 13 against per hour; with Darnell Nurse out there the number increases to 14 chances against per hour.

Shot metrics say much the same thing. Fayne’s Fenwick rating (unblocked shots for vs. against when a player is on the ice) is better than the team average despite the minutes he plays, and he’s one for fewer shots/missed shots against per hour than anyone other than Oscar Klefbom and Brandon Davidson.

Plus/minus is, as always, a garbage statistic but for those who care he’s also a modest minus-9, on this team and in those minutes.

Peter Chiarelli4

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The choice facing Peter Chiarelli this summer, and our readers right now, is whether that’s enough. Fayne’s a right-shot defenceman with a significant cap hit, and trading him means both adding another right-shooting defenceman to the shopping list and finding a team willing to take on his contract, something which will probably involve taking money back.

My views on the matter are probably pretty obvious, but here we’re looking for the views of our readers: should Fayne stay or should Fayne go?

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS


  • LaRock

    I had been saying Fayne ++ for Hamonic for a bit and had always been looked at like I was crazy.

    After this article I either feel more justified for my stance or would rather keep Fayne and use other assets to acquire Hamonic.

    If a summer where Shattenkirk and Hamonic were both added happened, then the right side would be a strength.

    Klef.Shatty

    Sek.Ham

    Nurse/Davidson.Fayne

    Gryba

    • Oilerchild77

      I don’t know if I would play Shattenkirk ahead of Hamonic, but I would love that depth. However, if you have all that depth, why forcefeed Nurse NHL minutes? He’d be better off in the AHL for at least a half season more.

  • Spydyr

    If Fayne plays anywhere outside the bottom pairing Chiarelli has failed this summer. If he could trade Fayne and replace him with a better right handed defenceman I’m all for that.

  • Druds

    When we start to get legitimate first pairing defencemen then Mark can play on a third pairing and play exactly where he is suited for.

    We have constantly stuck people in positions where they will fail….its our Oilers’ motto for the last 10 years.

  • TKB2677

    This isn’t the first time something was written about Fayne by Willis where he makes the case to keep him. He mentions it in his game grades, he mentions it in tweets. Every time he talks about Fayne, he gives the same argument using advanced stats as his ammunition.

    My first question would be this. If the majority of the Oilers defense wasn’t so young, inexperienced and frankly not good enough, would Fayne be playing as much or at all?

    I say this because at one point in the season, a team with one of the worst defenses in the league waived him. 29 other teams passed on him and he played several weeks in the minors. I remember when he was waived and the advanced stats guys like Willis, Lowetide, etc talked a ton about him and his advanced stats. I believe Lowetide had Rob Volman on, who writes books about advanced stats. He talked about all of Fayne’s great stats. They all figured the Oilers were stupid and the 29 other teams would scoop him up in a heart beat if it wasn’t for his contract. I have to assume that before he was waived, the Oilers were probably shopping him for weeks, maybe a month. Yet no takers. Yes the contract makes it hard but if you are a team that needs defense – lots of them do – and given the fact he is a right shot – which makes him very valuable- if, he’s that great, couldn’t you find away to take him on?

    Second question. If Fayne is so great, why is he only playing just over 16 mins a night?

    Did you know that other than Clendening, Nikitin and Hunt, all of whom are terrible Dmen, Fayne averages the least amount of time on the ice? IN 2 of the last 5 games, Fayne played less than 13 mins. McLellan and his staff, all pretty smart coaches, would rather play rookies and AHL call ups more than Fayne. WHY? Basically according to the advanced stats, McLellan and his over 300 NHL wins must be stupid and not know what he’s doing. Is that true?

    Third question. This is the toughest one. In today’s NHL, with the salary cap and how tough it is to win, if the goal for every team is to win, can you afford to have a guy like Fayne on your team making 3.6 mill?

    Willis himself said that Fayne doesn’t move the puck very well. Despite having good size, he isn’t tough and doesn’t hit anyone at all. He’s not a cycle breaker, he’s not the type that will clear the net. He doesn’t have a big shot. He doesn’t score any points. He doesn’t play a heavy game. All he brings to the team and Willis admits this, is he’s a right shot and he’s an OK defender. He’s not even an elite defender, he’s just decent at it. With a salary cap, the days of keeping guys that are one dimensional are all but gone. If you are a defensive Dman, you better be able to defend AND do other things. Like Gryba. He might not be as good of a defender BUT he’s tough, physical, clears the net, breaks up the cycle and plays a heavy game. Plus he makes under 2 mill. So I don’t see how a team can afford to have Fayne at his price point because he only brings one thing. If he made half, then maybe. I also think that Fayne is better suited for the East because the East doesn’t play as heavy of a game that the West does. You don’t have to look any further to that being true than the Oilers record over the years vs the East.

    So in my opinion, I don’t see how the Oilers can afford to keep Fayne. He’s too one dimensional and does not play a heavy style of game that you need in the West. If their defense was better, I question if he is even playing given all the things he doesn’t do. If the advanced stats guys want to bring up “he plays tough mins argument” I will turn that back to them and say if you look at the Oilers roster and you look at who they have, who’s healthy and look at the experience of the majority of the Dmen on the roster. Who else would you give those supposed tough mins too? He’s one of the few legit vets they actually have.

    • Oilerchild77

      I would include your post in my reply, but you wrote way too much to make a simple point.

      Anyway, whether you think they can keep him or not is moot because I doubt they will be able to move him anyway. And he IS a competent dman in a 4-6 role. Forget the salary because they need NHL dmen that can help shelter the young guys who aren’t quite ready for regular duty.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m in favor of moving his contract too, but not unless there’s a dman coming in that can adequately replace him.

      • TKB2677

        Fayne averages 16:39 a night. Nurse 20:29, Osterle 21:22.

        I’m a huge fan of Nurse but I think he should be in the AHL this year but unfortunately, the Oilers don’t have anyone better to keep him down. So they are forced to have him up.

        Osterle is a nice story. He’s played well. The only reason he is up now is because the Oilers have so many injuries and Nikitin is so bad, they have no choice. Osterle has 20 career NHL games. If you want so see what Osterle can do, fine. You play Osterle 3rd pairing mins, give him a little sugar time on the PP if you want, he hovers around 15 mins a night.

        If Fayne and his 382 NHL games was as competent as you say, Osterle and Nurse would have no business playing 4 mins more a night. They’d be getting spoon fed bottom pairing mins, being lucky to play 15 mins while the vet Fayne played 4 mins more a night. That’s how it’s supposed to work with young Dmen. The young Dmen by coaches choice have been playing 4 mins more a night the entire time both these guys have been up. That’s a massive amount.

        When you say you can’t move him until you can replace him. Why? If Klefbomb, Gryba and Davidson were healthy, I don’t even know if he would be playing. Every one of those guys have been before and would be slotted ahead of Fayne. So maybe, Fayne might be the 3rd pairing Dman. We all know that the Oilers are getting at least 1 Dman for sure and I doubt they are moving one of their young guys. So there is going to be a new Dman, Sekera, Klefbomb, Nurse, Davidson, and most likely either Gryba or a Gryba type. That’s 6. You aren’t keeping Fayne at 3.6 mill as your #7. So either he is traded for not much or bought out.

        • Oilerchild77

          Yes, Klefbom, Sekera and Davidson are all better dmen. But they all play the left side. And it DOES matter. The weakness on the blueline is on the right side. And unless they can find a team to take Fayne’s contract AND find two RH dmen that are better, they are stuck.

          • TKB2677

            The Oilers were playing Davidson on the right side prior to him getting hurt and he was doing very well. Since his call up, Reinhart has been playing exclusively on the right side and playing really well. So they already been actively working on finding other options on the right side within.

            The GM likes players who player a tougher, harder, heavy game, All things Fayne doesn’t do what so ever. The GM doesn’t have any ties to Fayne as he didn’t sign him. The GM was involved in first shopping for a trade, then putting Fayne on waivers, then going to the pres & owner and selling them on why it was a good idea to bury 3.6mill Fayne in the minors for 3 weeks.

            From a coaching perspective, except for Clendening, Fayne is playing the least out of all the dmen that have been playing the last month. As I previously mentioned, his average ice time is the lowest on the team other than Clendening, Hunt and Nikitin. Prior to getting hurt, even waiver pick up Pardy was averaging more ice time than Fayne. Next season, if nothing else happens and it comes down to choosing one of Clendening, Nikitin or Fayne, then yes, they will keep Fayne. But if you think the GM isn’t going to do almost everything in his power to rid himself of Fayne, then I think you are sorely mistaken. I just don’t see how a team is going to keep a player when they tried to get rid of him for nothing.

          • Oilerchild77

            Well honestly, I hope he does trade him. I’m not opposed to the idea, but I doubt Chiarelli thinks of playing a lefty on the right side as an ideal situation. Most teams avoid it whenever they can.

            I’m just saying it’s not gonna be easy to move him. It may end up being the same situation as Nikitin, where they bury his contract in the minors.

          • TKB2677

            While I agree that playing a left shot on the right side isn’t ideal but if a guy can do it and do a decent job at it, you have to dress the best possible defense you can. Keeping an inferior Dman just because he shoots right, doesn’t make any sense to me.

            If all of their Dmen were healthy, I would say Fayne is the Oilers 6th best dman. I have Sekera, Klefbomb, Davidson, Nurse, Gryba all ahead of Fayne. Based on the ice time, it sure looks like the coaches feel the same and it even looks more like that when a guy like Osterle, Reinhart and Nurse, all rookies are all playing over 20 mins while Fayne plays in the teens. I think what is propping up Fayne’s mins right now is how lousy Clendening has been. If you look back at Fayne’s last 5 games, the 2 games that Clendering played decent (Ari & LA), Fayne played under 13 mins. The other games where Clendening was a disaster, he played high teens.

            I personally think the Oilers are going to resign Gryba. He’s going to cost you less than 2 mill. He’s a good guy, big, strong, tough, physical, kills penalties, clears the net. He’s a perfect bottom pairing Dman and the fact he’s a right shot is even better. So assuming all of the above are still an Oiler plus Chia brings in another guy, that means at best, Fayne is #7. You can’t have your #7 making 3.6 mill. So if they can’t trade him, which I agree with you will be tough to do, he’s going to get bought out.

          • Oilerchild77

            100% agree. Gryba is a better and cheaper option than Fayne. And they probably would have resigned Gryba already if they could have moved Fayne at the deadline. They mght be waiting to see if they can move Fayne in the offseason and then sign Gryba. Boy I’d like that because I’m a Gryba fan.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    Nay. I’d be perfectly happy playing him in the 3rd pairing, but he makes far too much money to be playing there.

    Fayne never seems to pass the eye test for me – big gaps in coverage, being ‘out of frame’ on goals, gets bullied out of the crease by opposition forwards. I was really surprised when I looked it up and saw Fayne listed at 6’3 212. I know he’s not a physical player, but he doesn’t even seem to hold his own in battles.

    Not fast, not physical, not strong, no offence…$3.625M cap hit. Pass.

  • Zarny

    I’ll take a definitive stance and say…it depends. Who are the Oilers other 6 D next year?

    Fayne is the blueline version of Marcus Kruger. On a deep roster like Chi Kruger can be utilized almost exclusively to his defensive strengths. In Edm Kruger would be an unmitigated disaster because they’d need him to do more.

    If the Oilers acquire Hamonic and Vatanen there is probably a spot for Fayne on the 3rd pair or as the defensive part of a 2nd pair with a mobile, puck moving D partner. It’s a formula that worked well with Andy Greene in NJ.

    If the right side D next year is Hamonic (or some other upgrade) and Gyrba then it’s a different story. If the Oilers need Fayne, or any player, to be something they are not there will be the same problems we’ve seen for the last 6 years.

  • Mcbain

    Yay. Although I understand that the contract is undesirable for a #5-6 defensemen but keeping this player leaves us with a competent defensive player who can play difficult minutes and on the penalty kill. Moreover, it would allow the oilers to keep younger players in Bakersfield to continue development. There is value in keeping this veteran player to shelter our younger defensemen from tougher situations. Does the value of the aforementioned opinions outweigh the $$ of the contract?

  • Gadgets

    “He’s on the ice for 12 high-danger chances against per hour, the lowest of any right-shooting regular on Edmonton’s blue line”

    Isn’t that like saying he’s on the ice for the lowest of any defencemen who’s name starts with a F and end with an E?

  • We have no problem with Fayne, he plays defense. Sure scoring is great, but sometimes you need one of those rear-guards that can actually make a defensive play. Sounds crazy, right?

    Keep him around as a mentor, as we do not have an abundance of veteran defenseman do we have that can actually play defense.

  • Blue Bullet

    It’s tough to see how we improve the team in moving Fayne, as we will need to eat a bad contract coming the other way. Moving him would just be a lateral move.

    If used in the correct role as a bottom pairing RHD, Fayne is a useful player. Yes he’s overpaid for that position but that is what the former management has left the Oilers with.

    • Oilerchild77

      Now this is a sensible post. A lot of people are suggesting that PCs offseason will be an epic fail if we still have Fayne going into next year. Well, get ready to be disappointed because the contract is too undesirable to other teams with the extra year on it. I see him being moved next offseason though.

      • RJ

        It’s interesting to watch the continually moving goalposts of this Oilers re-build.

        After they signed PC, it was going to take two off-seasons for PC to re-shape this team. They went through off-season one, and season one of the Chiarelli era. Now the second off-season is upon us, and now there are already excuses why PC can’t finish re-building the defence.

        I’d love to be an Oilers GM. Zero accountability required. Just make excuses and there will be large segments of the fanbase (and Oilers employees) on social media defending you and your inability to fix the blueline that’s only been a problem for ten years.

        • Oilerchild77

          I think you’re being a little unfair here. Chiarelli has already started cleaning up the mess left him by the previous management regime. Do you really think another team is going to take Fayne’s contract!? You need a trade partner to get these things done. I’m not makng excuses for him, I’m just being realistic, dude.

          By the way, PC didn’t negotiate that contract and I doubt he would have because he’s not that dumb.

          • RJ

            The whole premise of this article is that Fayne has value. He’s just a poor skater, brings no offence, can’t make a break-out pass, and adds no physical element.

            My comment was last summer, PC fans repeatedly stated he would need 2 off-seasons to fix the line-up. He’s had one off-season, plus one season. This summer is his second off-season. Either he fixes the blueline or he doesn’t.

            They’re in 30th with three games left. The team has been an utter disappointment, and he’s being paid big money to fix it.

          • RJ

            So then how long does it take for him to acquire better defencemen? Trade down, then draft Juolevi, wait until Jones and Bear are draft +3, then maybe it’s fixed?

            Wait until McDavid is an RFA?

          • RJ

            I am calm. I’m just asking a valid question. It was supposed to be two off-seasons to improve the team. We’re coming up to the second off-season.

            Any timeframe at all? Don’t worry, Peter’s on it?

          • Oilerchild77

            First off, no you’re not calm. Your comments sound like veiled anger from a fan who just wants to take their frustrations out on whoever is in charge. Second, who said it was going to take two offseasons? Some random fans? Well, then it must be written in stone somewhere in Chiarelli’s office then, right? Give me a break! Also, they haven’t even gone through the second one according to your timeline, so why don’t you relax.

          • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

            The whole two year thing was implied when the Chia stated that he needed to really evaluate the team over the year to understand what he truly had. That meant that his would be a two year process and that Chia got serious at the trade deadline and will continue this coming summer. His work last summer was more about filling holes that he inherited. Even so I suspect that much of his knowledge came second hand from higher management such as MacT and Lowe. This will really be his first summer of really being the master of the ship. At this point I would argue that he is a far better trade negotiator than any of his predecessors but this summer will really be the one that defines the future of this club. Will the opportunity to be under a top NHL coach, In new Diggs, on the ice with Connor McDavid, Hall etc attract a true top NHL defender? Time will tell.

          • Oilerchild77

            Yes, I agree with your post. Hopefully PC doesn’t take any more advice from previous management because that never turns out well. But my point still stands. The “timeline” was brought up by fans, not the organization.

    • camdog

      It’s sort of ironic over the past few years people always say that the young players need to be surrounded by veteran players with size to help protect them and the young skilled forwards can’t score because defenceman like Fayne can’t get them the puck. We need d-man that can compliment the forward group either with size (Gryba) or the ability to more the puck.

      It wasn’t long ago that the advanced stat community was stating emphatically that there is no room in the NHL for defensive defenceman that can’t move the puck, because they spent their entire shift defending and promote absolutely no offence. It is truly amazing that these same bloggers have completed a 180 in the last few years.

  • Honestly, the last half of the season the team has been much better defensively. We’re not talking about those huge mistakes or turnovers nearly as much. We can maybe even chalk the last two losses up to poor officiating.

    Yes, they still have a problem breaking out of the zone, but I don’t think Fayne is really the problem, and he’s pairing well with Sekera.

    Imagining we’re adding Hamonic and Vatenen, well, keeping Sekera Fayne together might not be terrible if you’re pairing Klefbom and Hamonic, then Davidson and Vatenen. Or of say Davidson goes down to injury, then you could have the steady vet Hamonic mentor Nurse, give Vatenen to Klefbom, and still have a reliable pair in Sekera Fayne.

    It’s not the most physically punishing D in the world, but Hamonic, Klefbom, Davidson / Nurse are all pretty big and capable. And even though Fayne doesn’t play a physical game, he is at least big enough to break up cycles and win puck battles.

  • fasteddy

    The thing I found amusing about this article is the 12 chances against vs 13 for Gryba, 14 for Nurse……if that is indicative of what “fancy stats” entail then I don’t blame hockey people for blowing them off at times. 2 chances per 60 min of on ice time?! That seems silly if one or both of the other comparables bring other assets to the table, (toughness, skating, passing). We are splitting hairs here.

  • PerryK

    That is a double edged question. If the Oilers manage to REPLACE Fayne, then they had a successful off-season. However, he has to be the last piece of the puzzle. Certainly, if you replace Fayne and do nothing about the other issues, then it is a distinct fail.

  • Free Bird

    Yea. Fayne is a reliable right-handed defender, so I’d keep him and focus on finding more right-side defenders that can push Fayne down the depth chart. His contract is expensive for essentially a third pairing defenseman, but most UFA signings are expensive for what you get. Unless the team is cap crunched next season I wouldn’t go out of my way to unload him.

    The reason Fayne gets less ice time than less experienced defenders is that he doesn’t move the puck very well, which is an important trait in Todd McClellan’s system. But then Gryba doesn’t move the puck well either, so there aren’t a lot of options available, especially considering there aren’t any good right-handed defensemen reaching UFA this summer.

    What would I do… keep Fayne as a defensive specialist, resign Gryba for depth, and trade a top-six forward for Vatanen. Whether a young LHD like Klefbom or Nurse should be traded for Hamonic is another debate and I’m not sure what Klefbom’s long-term health status is at the moment.

  • Oiler Al

    Somewehere along the line players have to make adjustments to their play if they want to play in the NHL and play opposite sides.

    The number is something like 80% of all players
    shoot left, because the greater of the population
    are right handed as opposed to being left handed
    person.[ its usually the left handed players that shoot right.]

  • Pouzar99

    Unless the team brings in at least two good, right shot D men, I don’t see how we can move Fayne. If one of our top wingers goes in a deal for Hamonic, say, Hamonic will likely play top pairing with Klefbom, assuming his staph infection is healed. Then Sekera and Fayne could play second pairing, where they would fit well. That leaves Davidson and Nurse with Gryba, another right shooting D man. At Fayne’s salary he will be hard to trade, anyway. All the prospects and suspects, apart from Clendenning, are L shot, Reinhart, Oesterle and Pardy.