ST. PAUL -- Less than 24 hours after signing a four-year contract with the Minnesota Wild, Marcus Foligno wore grooves into the Xcel Energy Center ice as he took part in head coach Bruce Boudreau's notoriously strenuous skating test.
The test, which requires a minimum three rounds of end-to-end, back-and-forth skating in about forty seconds per lap, was made even more difficult this year. Foligno, who passed with flying colors, seemed unfazed.
"[The team] said I'm not the smartest one coming in for skate test day," said Foligno, laughing off a suggestion that he should have held out in contract negotiations just one more day to avoid the notorious fitness challenge. "I just wanted the deal done and to get back with this group."
The left wing was acquired -- as a restricted free agent -- by Minnesota in an offseason trade along with Tyler Ennis in exchange for Marco Scandella and Jason Pominville. The trade increased the Wild's forward depth, and added mobility and precision in both the 6-foot-3 Foligno and smaller, shiftier Ennis, albeit in very different ways.
Day 1 of training camp saw Foligno on a line with Joel Eriksson Ek and Charlie Coyle: three large, skilled players who use their size to their advantage in various ways. Foligno is gritty and willing to throw big hits; Eriksson Ek is a skilled scorer; Coyle is the quintessential power forward who can move between center and wing.
"These guys are all very strong guys in the corners," said Boudreau, "and that, I think, will make it difficult for [defensemen]."
Video: After Signing, Foligno Joins Wild at Training Camp
Though Foligno's 13 goals last season were a career high, Boudreau believes there's still a lot of room for him to grow.
"He played with pretty good players last year, he was with [Jack] Eichel a lot, but he was moved up and down the lineup a little bit. I think if we can keep him with the same group, his potential hasn't been reached yet."
A member of that group, Coyle, was impressed with what he'd seen from Foligno in just one practice. "He wasn't a fun guy to play against in previous years, in Buffalo," said Coyle. "He has a tenacity on the ice, he flips that switch and he plays hard-nosed and that's an area I want to get better at.
"You can learn a lot from a guy like that. He's gonna be great for us."
For his part, Foligno is equally impressed by his new team. "There's a lot of great players," he said. "I feel more responsibility on myself."
One of the things that stood out to Foligno about that responsibility is what General Manager Chuck Fletcher told him when he signed: "Be you." To Foligno, that means he has to play physically and play smart first and foremost. However, he also wants to add more offense and knows he needs to shoot more when he gets the chance.
"My shooting percentage has to get better; obviously I want to score goals," said Foligno, who focused on bumping that percentage up over the summer. He also worked extensively on his conditioning in the offseason, lengthening his stride and trying to improve his overall fitness.
That effort was immediately noticed by the coaching staff. "He's got a better stride than I thought he did," Boudreau said.
Foligno looks forward to a fresh start in a new city, he said, even after playing in his hometown of Buffalo.
And what is Foligno most looking forward to this season? "That we're a Stanley Cup contending team," he said, with a small smile. "Here, [our goal] is to win the Stanley Cup, and the mindset is very different."
Video: Foligno Delivers Season Tickets