In July of 2014, the Oilers signed Mark Fayne to a four-year, $14.5 million deal, with then-GM Craig MacTavish calling Fayne “a very good defender” that made plays “highly effectively.”
How times have changed.
On Wednesday, the Oilers announced they’ve put Fayne on waivers for the purpose of assignment to AHL Bakersfield.
It’s a big development, and a bit of a stunner — but there was writing on the wall.
Fayne has been a healthy scratch a few times this year and had his role reduced under new head coach Todd McLellan. The former Devils rearguard averaged nearly 18 minutes per game last season, but has seen that total fall to 16:13 per night.
Fayne, 28, also has no goals and just one point through 24 contests.
In Edmonton’s last game, a 4-2 win over the Sabres on Sunday, Fayne watched from the press box as the Oilers went with a six-man defensive unit of Andrej Sekera, Justin Schultz, Darnell Nurse, Eric Gryba, Oscar Klefbom and Brandon Davidson.
In a telling stat, Nurse — the youngest blueliner on the team, at age 20 — and Klefbom, 22, led the team in ice time.
As for Fayne’s future? Should he clear waivers, he’ll be off to Bakersfield and the Oilers would get some relief from his $3.625M cap hit.
It’ll undoubtedly be a tough blow for the veteran, though.
Fayne barely spent any time in the American League after graduating from Providence, playing in just 19 games for Albany before becoming a full-time member of the Devils.
Finally, it’s worth pointing out that should he clear, Fayne won’t be the only high-priced contract the Oilers have stashed in the minor — Nikita Nikitin, who is making $4.5 million this year, is also currently in Bakersfield.