The last time we went through the process of selecting the Top 25 Under 25 Taylor Fedun found himself on the bubble, just one spot out of the money at 26th. A couple of votes inside the Top 25 went his way but those were balanced out by some very low votes. The problem last summer was in large part the result of an ugly injury he suffered in training camp the fall before and which he hadn't yet returned from. Pessimism was reasonable when trying to rank a player that none of us had really seen much of. But still, I wanted to pick him as my longshot:
I really want to say Taylor Fedun. What I saw in camp last year before the injury makes me think there's a real player there. And a big part of me likes his story. His route to an NHL contract was hardly traditional and now he has a terrible injury to overcome. I really want to say Fedun but I can't.
But I didn't. Instead I let my pessimism about Oilers management come through and picked Mitch Moroz instead. Six months later though it looks as if Fedun would have been a good choice all along. In fact there is almost a consensus among the writers here that Fedun has a chance to be something and as a result he's rocketed up the rankings landing at #16.
|Rank||Player||DOB||Drafted||Year||Alan ||Ben ||Bruce ||DB ||Derek ||Jon||Michael||Ryan||Scott|
Previous Rank: 26
But even at #16, a chance is really all Fedun has right now. Michael, who voted him lower than anyone else, has this to say about Fedun:
Taylor Fedun seems like a good guy, and I know everyone is cheering for him after sustaining one of the more horrific injuries a human can endure in breaking his femur. But as a player I question whether he stands out in any particular aspect of the game enough to ever make the NHL in anything more than a call-up capacity.
He's probably a bit below average size for a defenceman at 6' 190 lbs. He's already 24 and will turn 25 before the beginning of next season. And his 15 points in 46 AHL games this year leaves him 77th in scoring in that league among defencemen. Even considering how poor the Oilers defensive depth is, he's not a good enough point producer nor does he have the size and physicality that would be required to become an everyday NHLer in a specialized role. Being an NHL tweener isn't such a bad fate, and I expect that to be his ceiling for the next few years.
I can't argue with any of what Michael says. He's not especially big and certainly doesn't fit the Andy Sutton, Theo Peckham, Mark Fistric model the Oilers like to employ on their third pairing. And compared to a most of the other prospects on this list he is getting a little long in the tooth, if he was the same age as Colten Teubert then Fedun's future might look a little more bright. And he doesn't score enough to justify calling him up for offence alone. And yet there he is at #16, why is that?
For me it comes down to a bunch "Well yeah, but..." arguments.
So he's not big and he doesn't score a lot but he's a good skater and appears to be fully recovered from the broken leg which cost him last season. He's also a smart player, one who understands where he should be positionally on the ice. That combination won't add up to a thundering body check on nightly basis but it can be just as, if not more, effective. Even if it doesn't show up on the scoresheet, if Fedun consistently makes smart, effective plays that can get the Oilers out of their own end I would make that trade. So yeah, he might not fit the mould of the typical bottom pairing defenceman but there is nothing saying the mould can't be broken.
And he's definitely a little older than might be desirable but 24 isn't exactly dead either. Since 2000 a total of 49 defencemen have played their first season in the NHL after turning 24. Of course not every player on that list is a star or even went on to have what would be called much of an NHL career but the point is that it can be done. Had Fedun been toiling in the AHL since turning 20 I might think differently but this is just his first season of pro hockey, there is no reason to think he can't continue to improve. So yeah, he's not a teenager anymore but I won't count him because of his age just yet.
Fedun is far from a sure thing to even play in the NHL let alone establish himself as a full time player but I think he's still got a chance. I don't know any fans that aren't pulling for him.