BUFFALO – For years and years, the cycle repeated itself. Taylor Fedun would earn a recall to the NHL as an injury replacement and eventually return to the AHL.
“Normally every opportunity I’ve had at this level, once guys get healthy, it’s just kind of the way it’s gone,” said Fedun, a Dallas Stars defenseman who played two full seasons in the Sabres organization. “I’m the guy that got sent back down.”
Despite compiling some strong numbers, Fedun, 30, could never stick. He shuttled back and forth for five seasons, playing 43 NHL games with three teams, including 34 for the Sabres.
But by earlier this season, he seemed out of the Sabres’ plans.
Thanks to a surfeit of defensemen in Rochester – the Americans had 10 at one point – Fedun sat out some games as a healthy scratch.
“Something had to give there,” Fedun said this afternoon inside KeyBank Center. “It was a point where they had a lot of bodies on D. I had kind of fallen out of the spot where I was playing all the time and would have an opportunity to get called up.”
On Nov. 10, the Sabres traded Fedun to Dallas for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2020.
After playing three times with the Stars’ AHL affiliate in Texas, Dallas, which desperately needed defensemen, recalled him.
“It was perfect timing,” said Fedun, who has scored 49 goals and 179 points in 349 career AHL appearances with four organizations.
When the injured defenders returned, Fedun stayed put. After they added two blue-liners, he kept playing.
Fedun has been in Dallas since Nov. 22. While the Princeton graduate will sit out tonight’s game, he has compiled three goals and 10 points in 43 NHL games this season.
“It’s been awesome,” Fedun said. “I’ve been saying 30’s the new 25 for me.”
How valuable has Fedun been to Dallas? Stars coach Jim Montgomery said Fedun and defensemen Miro Heiskanen and Roman Polak “really saved our season.”
“What allows Taylor to be so effective for us is his hockey sense, his compete and his understanding positionally of how we want to play,” Montgomery said. “And he’s a great teammate in the locker room.”
Of course, leaving Rochester, where Fedun spent most of the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons, was tough. The city is close to his heart. His wife, Katie, is still living there as she completes her nursing degree at the University of Rochester.
The couple made a lot of close friends and felt settled. Fedun said he “loved” the coaching staff and his teammates with the Amerks.
“(I liked) literally everything about the situation except for the fact that I wasn’t getting an opportunity,” Fedun said.
Now, Fedun feels like he has finally found a home.
“From a career standpoint,” Fedun said, “it’s been unbelievable.”