WINNIPEG, Manitoba — The Winnipeg Jets didn’t give up much in last summer’s trade with the Washington Capitals for Eric Fehr: a fourth-round draft pick and ECHL-level goon Danick Paquette.
But they anticipated more than a couple of points. In early January, coach Claude Noel said: “My expectations for Eric is I’m waiting for him to play a little better.”
Fehr this week got the chance to play on Winnipeg’s checking line with Jim Slater and Tanner Glass and even scored his second goal of the season Wednesday against the Dallas Stars.
“Definitely a little weight off my shoulders,” Fehr said Friday. “It definitely feels good to score a goal, but not only that, besides the goal I thought I played a pretty good game. I did a few better things: playing more physical and strong in the D-zone. Those are the things I’m looking at and hope I can build on.”
Fehr’s shot that beat Dallas goalie Richard Bachman was a howitzer and a brief reminder of what made the winger a highly-touted prospect and first-round pick.
But the same shoulder injuries that have hampered his career have limited him to 34 games so far this season. He has just three points and a minus-5 rating.
“It’s been a tough year. Definitely not the way I drew it up,” Fehr said. “You’ve just got to deal with the cards you have. My shoulder wasn’t great at the start of the season. It’s coming around now. I’m starting to feel a lot better, a lot stronger. Hopefully, I can get back to the game I want to play.”
It might be the perfect time for Fehr to try to gear up his defensive game. Skating with Slater and Glass, he’s forced to hit more, something that had been lacking of late.
And though coaches haven’t necessarily told the winger to be more physical, he understands some of that is necessary to make an impact.
“With the line I’m on, with the matchups we’re going to have, it’s going to be important to play physical and make it tough for the guys we’re playing against,” Fehr said.