DRAFT PROFILE: LIAM FOUDY
London Knights center Liam Foudy is one of the most intriguing dark horses in the 2018 NHL Draft crop. Arguably, no other player's stock rose faster in the second half of the 2017-18 season than Foudy's. He got a further boost, reportedly, by his engaging and thoughtful responses to the questions he was asked when he met with NHL organizations at the recent Scouting Combine.
More important, there are some who believe that Foudy is the fastest, smoothest skating forward available in this year's Draft. Even those who question other aspects of his game -- hockey sense, play without the puck, etc. -- love his skating. If he's not the fastest, he's nevertheless right near the top in that category with the likes of Filip Zadina or Rasmus Kupari.
Statistically, the former 2016 OHL Draft first-round pick (18th overall) did not have big overall numbers this season: 24 goals, 16 assists, 40 points in 65 regular season games, two points in four playoff games, four points in five games at the Under-18 World Championships. However, it must be kept in mind that, during the first half of the season, Foudy played a lesser offensive role in the Knights' lineup than Robert Thomas, Cliff Pu, Max Jones and overager Sam Militec. When those players were traded to other teams, Foudy's offensive responsibilities increased significantly, and he responded.
Foudy excelled in the off-ice and on-ice physical tests at the CHL Top Prospects showcase. He won the vertical jump and broad jump as well agility events. On the ice, he won the reaction with the puck event. The favorite to win the 30-meter skate with and without the puck events -- both won last year by eventual Flyers' first round pick Morgan Frost -- Foudy not win but finished in the top three. Off the ice, he was in the top three in the medicine ball toss event.
The Top Prospects event was when the lightbulb seemingly went on for Foudy. Shortly after his return to London, he caught fire. At one juncture, he racked up 18 goals in 19 games before he cooled off a bit.
Foudy is a player who loves to do everything at top speed. Some of his critics say his feet sometimes work faster than he processes the play, but others say he thinks the game just fine and it's teammates who struggle to adjust to his breakneck pace. Soo Greyhounds center Frost is more likely to slow the play down and use his speed burst only when necessary (which will be needed more often at the pro level).
Foudy is a fun player to watch when he pounces on a turnover or receives a pass with open ice in front him. Once he's off to the races, few defenders can catch him. He is also shifty in one-on-one situations. Foudy also has a very good finishing touch with a fast release.
At midseason this year, Foudy's likely draft slot was the middle rounds. However, by the end of the year, he'd shot up into the range where some teams might consider him in the latter stages of the first round or early in the second round. Nevertheless, he is not a lock. There are still some who knock his overall game, say that he is still prone to being a non-factor at tines, and say that he would need to get much stronger physically to compete as a top-six forward at the pro level. Both positively and negatively, he gets compared to Knights teammate Alex Formenton (drafted by Ottawa in the 2nd round last year).
QUICK HITS: JUNE 13, 2018
1) As a rule of thumb, I avoid discussing topics related to players' personal lives except if it directly affects a team on the ice. I have no idea what to make of the story
that's now gone public in Ottawa about Mike Hoffman's fiancee serially harassing Erik Karlsson's wife online, as well as Karlsson himself. It's a very strange, and very ugly story if true. Hoffman is standing by his fiancee, Monika Caryk in insisting than neither she nor he have anything to do with a series of insulting, derogatory and rumor-mongering online posts alleged to have posted from numerous accounts created by Caryk.
Again, I have no way of knowing what, and how much, is true. However, I do know this in light of the widespread reports that one or both of Hoffman and Karlsson are likely to be traded this offseason. An NHL team would be foolish to trade for Hoffman right now while all this drama is going on. No team wants to invite a situation like this into its locker room, at least not without all the facts and most certainly not at the reportedly high asking price for the 28-year-old forward.
Guilt by association? Perhaps. Nevertheless, it's a big distraction that no team can afford. Even if he is traded, the daily questions to and about Hoffman won't be about his fit on his new team and with potential linemates but about the circumstances in Ottawa that hastened his departure apart from Ottawa rebuilding. It's a mess.
2) Yesterday, I had the privilege of interviewing Bob Clarke for an article on PhiladelphiaFlyers.com. With the perspective of 34 years spent in management after his Hall of Fame playing career, Clarke imparted his observations on drafting and scouting (including the question "How does a GM assess a scout?"), changes in roster building over time, how certain things in the Draft are cyclical, the impact of the salary cap on drafting and development today, etc. It was fascinating, and I could have listened to him all day because, to this day, he knows the game on such a profound level. My thanks go out to Bob, who is currently in his hometown of Flin Flon, Manitoba, for taking time out of his day to speak to me for the article. The article will run on the Flyers' site within the next few days.
3) June 13 Flyers Alumni birthdays: Vyacheslav Butsayev (1970), Doug Crossman (1960), Dale Kushner (1966), Danny Syvret (1985).