COLUMBUS -- Liam Foudy touched the puck for the first time during the Columbus Blue Jackets annual 3-on-3 tournament to end their development camp on June 28, and immediately the oohs and aahs began.
When the center prospect gathered the puck in his own zone, all eyes in the OhioHealth Ice Haus were on the No. 18 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. Then the crowd saw the reason the Blue Jackets are so high on the 18-year-old from Scarborough, Ontario.
Foudy (pronounced Foo-dee) took his initial stride and with a burst created separation heading into the neutral zone. Time and time again, he exhibited the ability to put the defense on its heels.
"It's unbelievable some of the moves he can make, with speed," Blue Jackets development coach Chris Clark said. "That's hard to do. You can do it slowing down in the hands but he was doing everything at speed. One or two strides, he's at full speed, it seems like. He's got a lot of bounce in his step."
Video: Blue Jackets draft F Liam Foudy No. 18
There's a big difference between a scrimmage against other prospects and reaching the NHL, but having the kind of quickness Foudy has will give him an advantage.
Now it's a matter of building his 6-foot, 174-pound frame and working on his finishing.
"Skating is definitely my forte," he said. "I'm trying to work on my hands right now. You try to work on your in-tight hands. It will help you out on the big ice."
Even with the free agent signing of center Riley Nash to a three-year contract Sunday, Columbus is not deep down the middle, so Foudy will be given an opportunity at the preseason camp. It is more likely he will return to London of the Ontario Hockey League.
"It's definitely a goal of mine to play in the NHL this year," Foudy said.
He would have been even a bigger longshot in January, when he was languishing on the third or fourth lines for London. The trading of several players allowed him more ice time and he flourished.
Foudy had 11 points (six goals, five assists) in the first 41 games but had 29 points (18 goals, 11 assists) in his final 24 games for a season total of 40 points (24 goals, 16 assists).
"I remember that after Christmas he really took off and seeing all his highlights," said Kole Sherwood, a Blue Jackets forward prospect playing for Kitchener (OHL). "He really made a name for himself and showed up. Look where it got him."
Foudy jumped from 91st in the NHL Central Scouting mid-season ranking to 19th in its final report. Even before his rapid rise, he never wavered in his belief he could play in the NHL.
"I don't know exactly what I was thinking six months ago, but you've got to stay positive all the time," he said. "If you tell yourself you won't make it, you won't make it."