ST. PAUL -- Marcus Foligno is the younger sibling of Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno. But don't call him his little brother.
While the 6-foot, 205-pound Nick has blossomed into one of the most respected locker room leaders in the game, his brother Marcus has become a dressing room favorite in his own right.
Nicknamed "Moose," a label he was first given as a youngster, the moniker has carried over to whatever locker room he has played in.
"Once I started out-growing Nick, I was the bigger brother, the younger brother, and was maybe a little uncoordinated like a moose back then," Marcus said. "It was a family name, then it got carried into the hockey dressing room and guys took off running with it. It stuck."
Beloved by teammates in Buffalo, Marcus is coming off a career-best season with the Sabres in which the 6-foot-3, 225-pound forward scored 13 goals and 23 points.
Those numbers may not jump off the charts, but the Wild and coach Bruce Boudreau believe the younger Foligno could be just scratching the surface of his potential.
"I think he's young enough that he still has a lot of room to grow as a hockey player and hopefully we can bring that out of him," Boudreau said. "He brings an element that we really didn't have [last season]."
One thing is certain about Foligno: He's been a valued commodity by those inside the Wild organization.
General Manager Chuck Fletcher said Minnesota has been pursuing Foligno for the past couple of seasons, while Boudreau said Foligno's name has been a popular one with each of the past two teams he's coached.
"Ever since I was in Anaheim a few years ago, every time we talked about making moves with Buffalo, it was the name that came up," Boudreau said.
The addition of Foligno provides the Wild with an element Fletcher said the organization has been missing in recent years. One of the main critiques of the Wild's disappointing first-round postseason exit at the hands of the St. Louis Blues was a seeming inability to get enough traffic near Blues goaltender Jake Allen.
Creating havoc in front the opposing net is Foligno's bread and butter.
"Being 25 years old, I know what is expected of me in this League. I'm looking forward to big things next season," said Foligno, the son of former Sabres player Mike Foligno. "There's a lot of great players on Minnesota. To play with those guys who have more offensive ability, and to be that big-bodied left winger game and help out my linemates, that's what I'm expected to do."
Boudreau has a history of bringing out the best in big-bodied players, especially in Anaheim, where the likes of Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Jacob Silfverberg and Rickard Rackell have flourished in recent seasons.
While Boudreau preaches a speed and pressure game, he also loves a big, consistent net-front presence, something Foligno will provide.
"[He's] a 225-pound forward that can hit like a truck and can skate really well up and down the wing, goes to the net really well," Boudreau said. "In that element, we got bigger. We're not the small team we used to be. And his bloodlines are fabulous."
"I believe there's been times the last few years where we haven't been big enough and physical enough to get through certain parts of the season and through a playoff series," Fletcher said. "Marcus is a guy that has good hands, can contribute offensively, and obviously brings that size and physical element that I think we really need."