When Eric Fehr was first acquired by the Winnipeg Jets from the Washington Capitals on July 8, 2011, there was much hope that returning "home" to Winnipeg would be the perfect setting for the Winkler, MB native to finally blossom into a goal-scoring machine. That was what so many envisioned when he was repeatedly lighting up the lamp playing for the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL, where he scored 146 goals in 279 games, including 2 +50 goal seasons.
Being featured in primarily a grinding role with the Capitals, Fehr had shown glimpses of promise in limited offensive opportunities, including notching 21 goals in 69 games in 2009/2010. And seeing as all the Jets gave the Caps in return was an enforcer type prospect doomed to play in the ECHL for all eternity (Danick Paquette) and a 4th round pick (which became Thomas DiPauli), the move was deemed to be low risk with a potentially high reward if Fehr became a top 2 line scoring winger.
Fast-Forward to the off-season of 2012 and all that hope has been extinguished.
A shoulder injury that never seemed to go away, coupled with limited ice-time under the supervision of Head Coach Claude Noel, meant that Fehr managed just 2 goals and 1 assist and was deemed expendable at the end of the year when the Jets decided not to tender a qualifying offer to the RFA after his 2.2 million dollar cap hit came off the books. We're now 2 months removed from Fehr becoming a UFA, and he is still very much on the market.
So where did it it all go wrong for Fehr? Sure the shoulder kept him out of the lineup for long stretches of time, but in the time he WAS on the ice he really seemed to be gripping his stick too tight, or whatever cliché one would prefer. As was pointed out earlier in the year, his percentages were unmaintainably low, and had he been anywhere near his career average he would have had around 10 points on the year as opposed to 3. It was also pointed out that if Coach Noel had utilized more favorably, his numbers would have improved (duh!).
So what does this all mean for the future of Eric Fehr?
Well it actually means that if some team is willing to take a chance on a 27 year old with a history of injury problems, they are all but assured of better production than what he put up last year withe the Jets. The numbers just HAVE to get better.
Sure, he won't be signed for 2.2 million per year like his last contract. But if a team invests 525M a la Tim Stapleton, or 700k like Kyle Wellwood, they could be pleasantly surprised with their return of investment. As the clip above shows, this is a guy fully capable of putting points on the board in this league. But he needs the opportunity to do it. Having an injury free season every once in a while would help too.
So while there are those saying that Eric Fehr is done in this league, I beg to differ. With a little more puck luck and injury luck this is a guy fully capable of contributing to an NHL squad, and I am still not convinced we won't see him in Polar Night Blue again.
So I wish a happy birthday to Mr. Fehr, and I will be looking for him in an NHL team uniform soon.
You know...once this whole CBA thing blows over...