Nick Foligno is in the midst of a career year, one that’s helped the Blue Jackets stay alive in the playoff race after a disastrous start and also earned him some long-term stability.
He has already equaled a previous career high in goals (18) and currently leads the team in scoring, which earned him a spot in the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game, which will be played Jan. 25 at Nationwide Arena. And in a year in which things haven’t always fallen in the Jackets’ favor, the play of Foligno has been a constant bright spot.
When the Blue Jackets were hammered by injuries early in the season, Foligno saw time playing all three forward positions including an extended stay at center - a position he hasn't regularly played in years. But seeing that the Blue Jackets desperately needed help up the middle, missing Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and Mark Letestu to injury, Foligno let coach Todd Richards know he could fill in if needed.
Richards is hoping he doesn’t need to ask Foligno to play defense or goaltender, but if push came to shove, there’s little doubt that Foligno would throw his name into the ring if it meant helping the team win.
Foligno was officially named to the All-Star roster on Saturday afternoon before the Jackets played the New York Islanders, but he wasn't the only one from Columbus selected to this year’s event.
Ryan Johansen, who has followed up last season’s breakout 33-goal campaign with a point-per-game pace in 2014-15, was also selected to participate along with Sergei Bobrovsky, who’s had a pretty eventful weekend himself with a brand new four-year contract extension signed last Friday.
Bobrovsky and Foligno seem to be working in tandem lately; Foligno signed his six-year extension on New Year’s Eve and Bobrovsky followed with a long-term commitment of his own just over a week later.
“We’re a package deal,” Foligno joked. “I’m glad he allowed me to hang on his coattails and come to the All-Star Game.”
For Foligno, it represents not only his first career All-Star selection but also as a reward for an investment that began over the summer and has translated into a terrific start to the season.
“I’m thrilled,” Foligno said. “It’s such a great honor to be considered amongst the players that are going to be involved in that weekend. I’m really looking forward to it; it’s going to be a memory I’ll cherish for a lifetime. I’m looking forward to meeting all the players and just having a great time. I’m so excited for the city of Columbus, too - it’s going to be a great event.
“I’m sure I’ll be very nervous, but I’m going to enjoy every minute of it. I’m going to take it all in. I’ve really enjoyed my season so far and hopefully it can continue, but this is amazing honor to be considered amongst those players.”