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?


  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • @Hallsy4

    On Tuesdays, when fayne eats a ham sandwich 4.5 hours before the game, and plays between 15 and 17 minutes, with a D partner who puts his left skate on first, when there is 2 players using white stick tape on the ice, his Fenwick is in the upper left quadrant of D in the league, when compared to defenseman also from the United states, or any country that starts with an S. Just get winners who win games, if sexy boy is one of them keep him, of not I want as many trades possible this summer #TheMall

  • 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.

  • Jaxon

    Keep Fayne. Add Demers this summer and Burns next summer. When Fayne is off the books in 2018 and Sekera gets traded after his NMC becomes a 15 team list in summer of 2019 the Oilers will have a much needed $9M freed up cap space. By then 2 of Paigin, Nurse and Reinhart should be able to join Klefbom on the left side. And, if they’re smart, they will have traded for a few right-handed D to compete to move into Fayne’s spot, like Madison Bowey, Michael Paliotta, Brandon Montour, Mark Pysyk, Alex Petrovic or Matthew Spencer. Big young right-handers with some decent offensive prowess.

    Klefbom / Demers,
    Sekera / Fayne,
    Davidson / Gryba,
    Nurse / Bowey,
    Reinhart / Paliotta.

    Klefbom / Burns,
    Sekera / Demers,
    Nurse / Fayne,
    Reinhart / Pysyk,
    Paigin / Paliotta,
    LaLeggia / Bowey.

    Klefbom / Burns,
    Sekera / Demers,
    Nurse / Bowey,
    Reinhart / Pysyk,
    Paigin / Paliotta,

    Klefbom / Burns,
    Paigin / Demers,
    Nurse / Bowey,
    Reinhart / Pysyk,
    LaLeggia / Paliotta.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • madjam

    Fayne cleared waivers earlier in the season , as all 29 teams passed up on him when he was on waivers . His salary is a problem in tying to move him . Should be rather easy replacing him with a cheaper contract to boot . Can we actually trade him , or might they be looking at a buyout ?

  • 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.

  • 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.