OKLAHOMA CITY, OK-
Taylor Fedun missed the entire 2011-2012 season after breaking his femur in a preseason game with the Edmonton Oilers on September 30, 2011. But that is the old story with this prospect as the 25-year-old defenceman is not only fully recovered, but playing some impressive hockey with the Oklahoma City Barons.
Last year, in his first season back from injury, Fedun played 70 games for the Barons and recorded 27 points (8-19-27). As the season rolled along, so did Fedun’s progress until he quickly became one of the team’s pillars on the blue line. He played well in the playoffs for OKC as well, capping off a solid rookie season.
Flash forward to this season and the former Princeton player has not broken stride. Oklahoma City Head Coach Todd Nelson says that he may be OKC’s best defenceman this season.
“Arguably, yes,” Nelson said. “I think he’s been the most consistent performer. I think he’s picked it up where he left off, last year. I thought he did a great job when he got called up. He’s consistently our best guy. What a great story that is for him to go through that horrible injury that he had two years ago and for him to bounce back and play the way he has is incredible.”
The blue liner says having a full season under his belt leading up to the 2013-2014 campaign was extremely beneficial to his stellar start to this year.
“It’s a little different season for me this year as opposed to the beginning of last year,” he said. “I have a full season under my belt, last season. I think that allowed me to come in here and be a lot more comfortable from the get-go. That’s allowed me to take on a bigger role down here and play some more important minutes, which I’ve tried to embrace as best I can. It culminated in a call up in November which was a huge opportunity for me and I was able to contribute offensively which is always nice when you’re playing the other side of the puck for the most part. Since I’ve been back down here, I’ve tried to continue to do what I’ve done to give me the opportunity in the first place.”
Fedun earned his first NHL call up this season and played in four games for the Oilers, scoring two goals. Since being sent down, Fedun has been excellent. He has played in 30 games for OKC and has 20 points (5-15-20).
|Photo by Steven Christy |
“I feel like they’re giving me all the opportunities to succeed and putting me in the right positions here. I’ve been trying to make the most of it, every opportunity I get and I’ve got more and more experience. As I move forward, I think that’s an invaluable thing for me.”
Fedun’s play and experience has placed him in a new role as a leader of the Barons this year. The team is younger as a whole and, although he only has 100 AHL games under his belt (117 including playoffs), he is looked to as a veteran.
“It’s a unique role to be in only your second season and be in a bit of a leadership role but I’ve definitely embraced it. I’ve really enjoyed my time here and it’s a role I’ll continue to embrace.”
The younger roster has given players like Fedun more of an opportunity to play more minutes and take on more responsibilities. It’s been good experience for all of the Oilers prospects.
“Everybody is getting a lot of opportunity here, it’s not a position where we’ve got a group of AHL veterans that are playing night-in and night-out. That’s great for guys to get exposure to those types of minutes. You see the benefits of it as guys get opportunities to play with the big club.”
The defenceman is hoping to make his return to Edmonton soon. His coach in OKC provided some insight as to why that may not have happened yet.
“Well, I think from an organizational standpoint up top, you have to have a mix and maybe Taylor is not the right fit right now for them,” said Nelson. “Moving forward, hopefully there’s not injuries up top but if there is where they need a guy that can provide some offence but also play pretty decent defensively, maybe that’s the right fit for him. Right now, you can’t have too many of the same players out there. You have to have a good mix of grit and skill. Believe me, if the Oilers feel that, something happens in the future that, Taylor’s the right fit then he’s going to get the call.”
If he continues to play with authority and continues to impress the staff here in Oklahoma City, another call up could be in his near future.