SAN JOSE – Taylor Fedun made his Sharks debut on Sunday in Pittsburgh, and it couldn’t have been easy.
The defenseman was recalled by San Jose and arrived in the Steel City on Sunday morning, after playing back-to-back nights for AHL Worcester on Friday and Saturday. He’d have to play his third game in three different cities going up against some guys named Crosby and Malkin, among others.
The 26-year-old passed the test. Although he didn’t get on the scoresheet and took a hooking minor in the first period, Fedun finished with four shots on goal – second only to Logan Couture’s seven – and an even rating in 17:40 of ice time in the Sharks’ 3-2 shootout loss.
“The legs actually felt pretty good. Adrenaline is a wonderful thing,” Fedun said on Tuesday.
Coach Todd McLellan seemed pleased with Fedun’s first NHL game since last season when he was still with Edmonton.
“I thought he really played well. He looked composed, moved the puck well, he and Matt Irwin gave us an offensive look, as well,” said McLellan, who also used Fedun on the power play for two-and-a-half minutes.
Fedun joined the Sharks on a one-year deal on July 1, and was given a long look in training camp before he was eventually reassigned. He struggled for a bit early in the season with Worcester, and fell on the depth chart as players like Matt Tennyson and Dylan DeMelo were recalled ahead of Fedun, who was not brought up until March 7 and didn’t get into a game before he was sent down again three days later.
Buttoning up his defensive play was among his goals, and McLellan indicated that’s what has happened in the second half of the year.
“He’s not only been able to provide offensive for that team, which is what he was signed for, but he’s worked on his defensive play and he understands how the organization wants to play,” McLellan said. “For him to get the reward of coming in and playing now is well earned.”
“It was very satisfying,” Fedun said of getting recalled twice in the past three weeks. “It’s nice to know that all the hard work that you put in throughout the year gets recognized. To ultimately get into a game there was pretty exciting.”
Fedun will play more. Marc-Edouard Vlasic is out for at least one more game with a lower body injury, while Mirco Mueller is done for the season with a left hand injury.
At Tuesday’s practice, he remained paired with Irwin, which is where he’s likely to line up against Colorado on Wednesday in what will be his first home game.
“He played well,” said Irwin of Fedun’s game against the Penguins. “He’s confident when he moves the puck, he skates well, he’s got a good shot. I thought he handled himself real well.”
Fedun said: “[Vlasic is] one of the cornerstones of the D core so those are big shoes to fill, but I think the guys that have been here are doing a good job of stepping in, and they kind of take me under their wing and that helps a lot."
He agreed that he’s getting a good opportunity to audition for a job in the future, too, as he’s a pending restricted free agent.
“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,” Fedun said.