Senators Player Profile: Nick Foligno

This is the third in a series of profiles on each player for the Ottawa Senators.

Nick Foligno, C/LW, Contract: 1.2/12 (RFA)
Drafted 1-28/06 (Muckler), 6’0, Shoots L, YOB 1987, Buffalo, NY
2007-08 45-6-3-9 Even 20pim TOI 9:09 Hits 51
2008-09 81-17-15-32 -10 59pim (1 fight) TOI 13:40 Hits 97
2009-10 61-9-17-26 +6 53pim (1 fight) TOI 14:18 Hits 78
2010-11 82-14-20-34 -19 43pim (1 fight) TOI 15:34 Hits 119

Arguably the best forward drafted under Muckler’s regime (2003-07), Foligno was returned to the OHL for one more year before turning pro.  He joined the Senators in the turbulent year following their trip to the Cup final, quickly becoming the best forward asset in the organisation (ahead of fellow rookies Alexander Nikulin, Ilya Zubov, and Cody Bass) and spending most of the year on the NHL roster.

The next season Foligno looked like he took a step forward (video.senators.nhl.com/ videocenter/console?id=36957), particularly after the dismissal of coach Craig Hartsburg.  He finished strongly (a career high in goals and finishing tied for fifth with Mike Fisher in points) and many thought he was ready for regular duty as part of the top-six.

High expectations for 2009-10 (http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/preview2009/team?page=nhlpre09/ott) were wrecked in part by Foligno missing 27 games due to injury, although it remains his only season as a plus player and he maintained his usual points-per-game average (0.41).  Unlike Peter Regin, Foligno struggled in the playoff series against Pittsburgh, where despite averaging over 17 minutes of ice time he produced just one point.

Both Foligno and Regin were considered primed for breakout seasons heading into last season (http://nhlhotstove.com/2010-11-ottawa-senators-season-preview/), but Foligno simply continued his usual output despite increased ice time and he (like the team) struggled defensively (finishing tied with the injured Alfredsson and the departed Fisher for the worst plus/minus among forwards).

Although he only turns 24 in the fall and I disagree with a lot of the content in this article (www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=566695), the comments about Foligno seem apt.  He seems to have peaked offensively, leaving him locked in as a third line winger who can play on the second-unit powerplay.  Foligno has good hands and is strong on the puck, but he doesn’t distribute the puck well or make his teammates better.  His defensive work also needs improvement.  Reasonable expectations for next year would be 34 points with upwards of 15 goals.

Here’s Hockey Futures‘ old Foligno profile: www.hockeysfuture.com/ prospects/nick_foligno
His fight with Claude Giroux: http://www.hockeyfights.com/fights/101177
A nice goal against Detroit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTBGfYFfKtc

Next up is new Senator Nikita Filatov.