Fedun Receives Audition On Sharks’ Blue Line
SAN JOSE — With Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Mirco Mueller on the shelf, Taylor Fedun is receiving an audition on the San Jose Sharks’ blue line.
Mueller is out for the rest of the season (left hand) and Vlasic will miss the Sharks’ contest against the Colorado Avalanche at SAP Center on Wednesday with a day-to-day injury (lower body), giving Fedun another opportunity to leave an impression with the team before the season expires on April 11.
“It’s a big opportunity for me,” Fedun said. “Even though it’s late in the season, it’s huge to get this opportunity and try and make a good case to prove that I can play at this level.”
After suiting up for 63 games with AHL Worcester, Fedun made his Sharks debut against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday, logging 17 minutes and 40 seconds of ice time, including two minutes and 39 seconds on the power play. Fedun also recorded four shots on goal in the Sharks 3-2 shootout loss.
“I thought he played well,” defensive partner Matt Irwin said. “He moved pucks, jumped into the play and got some shots. It was a really good game for him.”
The contest was also Fedun’s third game in three nights as he also took the ice with the AHL Sharks in Springfield, Mass, on Friday and Worcester on Saturday.
Fedun said he landed in Pittsburgh at roughly 11 a.m. on Sunday and made it to the rink by the time his teammates were coming off the ice after their morning skate.
“The legs actually felt pretty good,” Fedun said. “Adrenaline is a wonderful thing.”
Head coach Todd McLellan wasn’t surprised that Fedun was able to bring a full tank to the rink on Sunday.
“They’re used to doing that in the American League (AHL),” he said. “I think some of our guys would be shocked if we had to go through that, but that’s a regular routine in the American League.”
Fedun made a strong pitch for a spot on the team’s blue line way back in training camp.
He led the team with six shots and 10 shot attempts in a split-squad game in Vancouver on Sept. 23. Later in the preseason, he picked up an assist on a Joe Thornton goal against the Los Angeles Kings on Sept. 30.
McLellan praised Fedun on several occasions during camp.
But the puck-moving defenseman, who suited up for four games with the Edmonton Oilers last year, ultimately needed to improve his play in the defensive zone to earn a call-up to the big club.
As a result, Fedun made a conscious effort to improve his defensive play in Worcester.
“That’s definitely something that has come a long way since the beginning of the year,” Fedun said. “I think it was a bit touch-and-go at the beginning of the year, but it’s gotten a lot better.”
McLellan said Fedun earned the opportunity to play with the club down the stretch by putting in the work at the AHL level.
“He’s done a tremendous job there,” he said. “He’s not only been able to provide offense for that team, which he was signed for, but he’s worked on his defensive play. He understands how the organization wants to play and he’s been a really good teammate.”
In 63 AHL games, Fedun collected 33 points (6g, 27a) while posting a plus-10 plus/minus rating.
Fedun received his first recall on March 7 after Irwin suffered an upper-body injury in practice, but he sat in the press box throughout the stint before eventually returning to Worcester.
When his number was called on Sunday, Fedun knew he was going see the ice with Vlasic and Mueller sidelined by injuries.
“It’s nice to know that all the hard work that you put in throughout the year gets recognized,” Fedun said. “To ultimately get to get into a game there was pretty exciting.”
While Fedun will be taking the ice in place of Vlasic on Wednesday, the 26-year-old won’t be trying to absorb the Olympic gold medalist’s loss singlehandedly.
“That’s one of the cornerstones of their D corps back there that’s out of there, so those are big shoes to fill,” Fedun said. “But I think that the guys who’ve been here are doing a good job of stepping in and they kind of take me under their wing and that helps out a lot.”