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?
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:
- 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.
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?
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