WWYDW: Mark Fayne, yea or nay?


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.


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?


  • Sean17

    Why get rid of him when you are just going to try and find him again? The money doesn’t matter now. Expensive 4-5 option, great deadline asset for next year

    • Oilerchild77

      Yeah. I agree. Is his contract good? No. MacT couldn’t negotiate a good contract to save his life. That being said, Mark Fayne is a decent dman. At least, he’s as good as anyone they’re likely to find in free agency. Besides, they will have a tough time moving that contract anyway, so I say eat the salary and keep the much needed asset.

  • The Whispererer

    There may be another reason to keep Fayne. The expansion draft rules may include a requirement to expose players composing 25% of the team’s CAP. Fayne’s $3.625 million would make up a good chunk of that and would not be a huge loss if he got picked.

  • Oliveoiler

    Yay: he goes about his game in a quiet unassuming way, does what is expected of him and doesn’t seem to want to bask in the ‘glory.’ Unless we can get 2 top pairing RD I say yay to keeping him. He’s not the pin-up of the Oilers, but he plays bloody well considering the D we have to support him.

  • O.C.

    Wait, the Oil aren’t re-upping Nikita Nikitin? Did they get rid of MacT or someth…

    Keep Fayne. As someone already said, otherwise you are hoping to find the exact player anyway.

    It’s not his fault the team is missing slots 2 to 4.

  • OilCan2

    Find good players. Keep good players. If Klefbom, Nurse, Reinhart & Davidson pass him next season then someone with playoff hopes will need a solid defense first defenseman; maybe even the Oilers.

  • Admiralmark

    You gotta keep him. Chiarelli should have a shopping list with 2 x RHD on it already. And frankly 1 year with a relatively healthy d Core plus an addition of 2 top 4 RHD would put Fayne in a better position to succeed more in his role. This would then raise his value and make him a more attractive player to other teams OR the Oilers at that point might see him as a player worth keeping.

    Incidentally upgrading the D core with 1 RHD capable of playing in the 1st pair role + the addition of a 2nd RHD that’s more of an offensive specialist. Will also raise the value of ALL the Oilers. It would sure be nice of management could finally figure out that creating a balanced lineup should be step 1 as it will then increase the value of all players.

  • The Goalie 1976

    I’m indifferent on him.

    I don’t like the idea of him playing with Sekera in the top 4 again next year. PC needs to add 2 RHD for the top 2 lines next year or this team will not make the playoffs.

    Sekera and Klefbom on the left side both need top end new partners. That leaves Fayne on the 3rd pair with Davidson. I’m fine with that.

    If he’s part of a trade package that brings in somebody better, then great. I’m not interested in moving him just for the sake of it and retaining money.

  • Ty Guy

    NAY….i can’t help but notice every time a puck skips over the blue line in the offensive zone…Fayne. Maybe not entirely his fault but, the slapper from the side boards for a break out 94% of the time..Fayne. Puck lost in the feet and stripped……FAYNE!!! Being right handed isn’t enough of an incentive for me

  • I like Fayne as a safe partner for a young rookie to break in with. He has value in that regard, despite the high price-tag. He could also be useful as a dependable 5 on a contender, and Chia shouldn’t hesitate to move him if there’s a deal to be made that makes the Oilers better.

    Something like this, perhaps?

    To NYI:

    Fayne (2 x $3.625M), Yakupov (1 x $2.5M), one of Musil or Simpson, and this year’s second rounder

    To EDM:

    Hamonic (4 x 3.86M) and Grabovski ($1M ret. on 2 x $5M)

    The Islanders save money and add potential offensive help in Yak while divesting themselves of Grabovski’s contract. The Oilers get a top RHD and a solid (if expensive) top nine centre.

    • Finnish Oiler fan in Edmonton89

      Too good of a deal for Edmonton

      Islanders probably want Nurse for Hamonic

      and I say we do it.

      Nurse is probably the most over rated player on the team

  • knee deep in it

    if Klefbom and fayne can be an effective 2nd pairing / pk tandem , then we can fit him in. It requires a true number one with sekera and that might not be easy to find.

    If we end up with harmonic, then we still lack a puck moving tandem. We are pretty much forced to land a shattenkirk or Faulk.

  • Bubba Train

    Interesting response. So if his numbers are good and he passes the eye test, why does TMac not favor him? Trip to the minors, way less ice time than many other d…….etc.

    Honest question.

  • 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.

  • Wintoon

    He is a RHD asset. We don’t have many of those in our entire system. I would love to see the Oilers keep him, particularly if they can play him on the third pairing. That would indicate that we have been able to upgrade our overall d quality and balance.