Oklahoma City Barons defenseman Taylor Fedun has only played professional hockey for two seasons, but he is one of the blue-line leaders on a team gaining momentum.
Fedun has 28 points in 51 games for the Barons, who host San Antonio at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Cox Convention Center.
“Taylor has had a fantastic year for us,” said Barons general manager Bill Scott. “On a team with a very young defensive group, he’s shouldered a lot of responsibility and has logged a lot of ice time. He’s been one of our captains. Taylor has meant a lot to this team.”
After playing a key role on last year’s team that used a late-season roll to reach the American Hockey League’s Western Conference finals, Fedun sees similarities to this team after Mark Arcobello, the franchise’s all-time scorer, was sent down to Oklahoma City six weeks ago.
Fedun, 25, is an offensive defenseman who also plays a key role on the power play.
“I feel I’ve had a pretty good season,” Fedun said. “As of late, I haven’t scored as much as I’d like. When that happens you try to make sure you’re taking care of the puck in the defensive zone. As a defender that’s the most important thing.”
The Barons’ chances of making a fourth consecutive playoff berth appeared to be a long shot a month ago. But since Arcobello returned, Oklahoma City is 13-2-2 since Jan. 30.
With 16 games left in the regular season, the Barons are in ninth, two standings points behind Milwaukee, currently the team setting above the playoff bubble. Milwaukee has played two fewer games than Oklahoma City, too.
“We still have to put a lot more wins together, but in recent weeks we’ve shown we can do that,” Fedun said. “Moving forward, we have a lot of confidence. We just have to keep it rolling.”
Fedun is the classic underdog story, an undrafted free agent who signed with the NHL team from his hometown, Edmonton. He nearly made the Oilers’ roster as a rookie three years ago after a stellar career at Princeton.
His dream was derailed when he suffered a horrific shattered leg in the Oilers’ final NHL preseason in the fall of 2011. Doctors inserted a steel rod in his leg.
The leg no longer is an issue. Even though he’s surpassed last year’s point total, he’s not viewed as a top-tier prospect because of his size (6-foot, 190 pounds).
However, Fedun made his NHL debut earlier this season. Despite scoring two goals for the Oilers, he was sent back to OKC after four games.
“Obviously he’s produced offensively,” Scott said. “He also played well in the games he played in Edmonton. Not many guys can say they scored two goals in their first two NHL games.”
After spending his entire pro career with the Oilers’ organization, Fedun will have to wait until after the season to see if he figures into Edmonton’s long-term plans.
“It would be nice to try and get to prove something more at the next level, because ultimately that’s where you want to be,” Fedun said. “It’s something always in the back of your mind, but those things are out of my power. Next season, I’ll be a restricted free agent again. The ball’s not really in my court.”