Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Edmonton Oilers may just be stuck with Mark Fayne’s contract

2016-17 Edmonton Oilers: No. 5 RD Mark Fayne

It isn’t particularly fair to a player who never got a real chance this season, but the only real question left to answer about Mark Fayne as a member of the Edmonton Oilers is how quickly the team will make his cap hit go away.

Todd McLellan and his coaching staff made their minds up about Fayne in 2015-16. I’ve long maintained that Fayne did a better job as a complementary player in tough minutes than he generally got credit for, but then I’m not the guy Fayne had to convince. Edmonton’s coaches came to a different conclusion, and Fayne was given just a half-hour of ice-time before being unceremoniously dumped to the AHL.

It’s worth reiterating that this was not a decision based on his work in 2016-17. Edmonton outscored the opposition 2-1 with Fayne on the ice. Fayne even picked up assists on both of those goals, once creating a rebound with a hard slap shot and on another occasion pinching in to secure the puck before passing down to Jordan Eberle.

According to AHL coach Gerry Fleming, Fayne was both a difference-maker on the ice and a quality veteran around the developing players in the minors:

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Absolutely fantastic [attitude], he’s a real pro. He’s made guys better, no doubt about it. I think he’s helped Griff, like you mentioned, but not only Griff but he’s helped our team. We’ve got some young guys this year and his voice in the dressing room, his leadership on the ice, the way he approaches practice, nothing but great things. He’s come down here and he’s worked hard. He understands his role and he’s accepted his role. He’s really made a difference on our back end.

None of that altered his status with the team. Fayne didn’t play another game with the Oilers over the remainder of the season.

He now has a single season remaining on his current contract, with a cap hit of $3.625 million and an actual salary of $3.5 million. Normally, we would expect Edmonton to buyout the remainder of that deal, but there is a problem: If they keep Fayne on the books, his contract ends next summer, at the same time as Connor McDavid’s entry-level deal. If they buy him out, a cap penalty of roughly $1.2 million extends into 2018-19, the first year of what will surely be an incredibly rich new deal for the Oilers captain.

Perhaps there’s a trade to be made. Edmonton could try to convince Las Vegas to take Fayne, in exchange for some form of future considerations (be it prospect or pick). The Oilers could try and move him in a change-of-scenery deal for another overpriced player, such as Nikolai Kulemin or Blake Comeau, perhaps retaining salary or offering a sweetener to make such a trade work.

Alternately, they may just take the same course next year that they did this season, banishing Fayne to Bakersfield to help win games for the Condors and mentor some of the young defencemen in the system.

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Bottom line: Fayne’s minor-league work suggests a player still capable of playing in a reserve role in the NHL, but he appears to be persona non grata with the coaching staff. If the Oilers can’t make a deal and aren’t willing to extend his cap hit into 2018-19, he could end up being the team’s equivalent of Wade Redden for yet another season.

Previous year-end reviews:

  • Hemmercules

    I would never do the buyout on him. He’s mentoring Griff, maintains an NHL defence men in case of injury and if they lose a Griff in the expansion and don’t keep Gryba then he could take one of their spots. If there is a trade possibility after the expansion then go for it.

    • FISTO Siltanen

      This 100x over.

      He costs the Oilers cap $2.2M for next year. A buyout costs them $1.2M for two years. He has embraced his role and has a positive impact on the team. He is depth insurance. Don’t see the need to buy him out at all.

    • EthanMoreau'sHands

      He’s no worse than Gryba. Save the money used in signing Gryba as depth and use Fayne. Save that money this year and the cap money next. Seems simple enough.

  • TruthHurts98

    Fayne is a soft defensemen who doesn’t use his frame to clear the net in the NHL. McLellan is the coach for a reason and maybe there are some other dynamics we don’t know about. Don’t like him as a player, but I don’t think any other team wants him except maybe the Avs. PC will work some more magic this summer and I really hope he can sign Oshie to play with Connor. That means dumping the entire 3rd line, so be it. Pekka Rinne had more points that Eberle and Poop combined in the first 2 rounds.

  • kdunbar

    1 year of Fayne in the minors as a call up for a RHD considering that AHL D is not going to have a lot of experience is not necessarily a bad thing, if the Oilers can make the cap work. Automatic 2.5 million that can go towards Connors cap hit the following year.

  • Little Buttcheeks

    Given the lack of right-handed D in the system, I don’t think it would hurt to have him around either as the 7th guy or in the minors. He can play and we need to keep as much cap space as we can for the Connor deal.

  • KenBone18

    Edmonton always needs it’s whipping boy – Schultz is gone, Hall is gone, Yakupov is gone, Eberle is likely soon to be gone. Keep Fayne around for a season so he can be the whipping boy for the fan base, and then they can chase him out of town once more.

  • Ryan68

    I think I trust McLellan’s evaluations more than the people who comment on ON, or write for it. This is one more mess that the idiot MacT left for current management. I have one question. Does MacT bring his own Leggo to the office, or do the Oilers supply him with a set? It galls me to no end that MacT and the other “oxygen deprived at birth” fool Lowe still get a pay cheque from the team. If Katz wanted to make sure his buddies had a job couldn’t he make them cashiers at a Rexall pharmacy? Just kidding, they don’t have the intelligence to have real jobs.

  • Pouzar99

    The problem is Fayne isn’t as good as any of their seven D men or even Griffin Reinhart in the eyes of Oiler management. I don’t see the Bakersfield games, so I can’t evaluate his play there. The money might be a little high but he might be a reasonable pickup for Vegas via trade, as better unprotected Oilers will be available in the expansion draft.