The year that was…
Every team needs a player like Nick Foligno.
Not only is he genuinely pleasant guy to have around, he’s an NHL veteran and a player who has been through highs, lows and everything in between – all before the age of 27.
When he played for the Ottawa Senators, Foligno fluctuated between the first and third lines and played a variety of roles. For the most part, he performed them well and he proved to be a very useful player during his time there. He was traded to Columbus in exchange for Marc Methot in July 2012, and after a 47-point season, Foligno was ready for a bigger role.
Almost immediately, he was a top-six forward for the Blue Jackets and coach Todd Richards. He saw time on the top line, second line, No. 1 power play unit…and midway through the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, formed one-third of the Blue Jackets’ go-to line withRyan Johansen and RJ Umberger.
And he took it a step further in 2013-14 despite some challenges both on the ice and off.
He dealt with health issues for his first born child, daughter Milana Maria, early in the season and needed to spend time away from the rink to be there for his wife and newborn. Foligno also battled injuries, the latest of which caused him to sit out the early part of the Blue Jackets’ first-round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
|Click the photo above for Nick Foligno's 2013-14 "season in photos" gallery. |
But when he got back into the lineup, Foligno had quite the impact.
He scored one of the biggest goals in the history of the franchise – the overtime winner in Game 4 in front of a sold-out crowd at Nationwide Arena – a goal that not only evened the series at two games apiece, but further installed a sense of belief inside the dressing room and in the city of Columbus.
Where is he now?
Foligno enters the final year of a three-year deal signed in 2012, and once again, figures into the Blue Jackets’ top nine group of forwards.
He was one of the Blue Jackets’ best possession players in 2013-14 with a Corsi For (CF%) of 51.2, and did so while jumping from line to line throughout the year. Foligno’s strong possession numbers – computed using shot attempts produced while a player is on the ice – coincide with the Jackets’ marked turnaround in that department; from year-to-year, only two teams experienced a better CF% improvement than Columbus.
With 18 goals and nearly 40 points a year ago, Foligno cemented himself as a solid source of secondary scoring. Much like he did in Ottawa, he showed his ability to play multiple positions and virtually anywhere in the lineup – and with competition all over the place in training camp, Richards will need that versatility.
But whether he plays on the No. 1 line, fourth line or somewhere in between, the Blue Jackets have come to expect a responsible, professional effort from Foligno on a consistent basis. And he seems to fit right in with their identity: hard-working, relentless and with a burning desire to win.