Every once in awhile a prospect comes along who is the picture-perfect “fit” for a hockey club. That prospect for the Columbus Blue Jackets is Liam Foudy. Toronto native. Two-time OHL All-Star. First-round, 18th overall draft pick by the Blue Jackets. Captain of the London Knights. Member of the gold medal-winning Team Canada at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships. NHL debut.
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Foudy has experienced it all over the past five years and is tipping the scale as to what type of player pro scouts project him to be. Let’s jump in and take a closer look at how the NHL should brace itself for Foudy.
Road to the Top
The road to the NHL is never easy. Many youngsters living in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) have dreams of making it to the NHL. Foudy’s path started in one of the best minor hockey programs in hockey, the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) with the Markham Majors. After posting 38 points in 32 games, it didn’t take long for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), one of the crown jewels of Canadian junior hockey to come calling. Foudy spent four seasons in London playing under legendary hockey gurus, Dale and his brother, Mark Hunter.
Foudy posted back-to-back 68-point seasons in his final two years with the Knights. When the OHL decided to halt play and cancel the 2019-20 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Foudy had 28 goals and 68 points in 45 games. His strong play earned him an invitation to play for Canada at the IIHF U-20 WJHC in the Czech Republic. Guess who was part of the management group and coaching staff? The Hunter brothers.
During the tournament, Foudy scored three goals and one assist in seven games as Canada won the gold medal in a nail-biting final against the mighty Russians. Along with team captain, Barrett Hayton and the consensus number-one pick at the upcoming NHL Draft, Alexis Lafrenière, Foudy was named one of Team Canada’s top forwards. That victory and the once-in-a-lifetime experience at a best-on-best tournament went right to Foudy’s legs when he returned to the OHL. He scored 13 goals and 34 points during an 18-game point streak.
Blue Jackets fans will be licking their chops at the thought of Foudy in the lineup on an everyday basis as early as next season. He has proven that he can dominate at every level, and is a shoo-in to make the roster out of camp next fall with an extensive array of skills at his disposal. A wonderful skater, with superior stick handling skills, he has a nose for the net and loves to shoot the puck. He is also an excellent passer and set-up man with the ability to “drive” a line.
He is also a sound defensive player for a 20-year-old and has shown consistency in his overall game in all three zones. Whether it’s his maturity as a player both on and off the ice or the fact that he spent the last four seasons under Hunter in London, Foudy is just one of those players who “gets it”. His puck-management is something to marvel at, and he displays excellent patience with the puck on his stick, sees the ice very well, and has a high hockey IQ to excel as a center.
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In today’s NHL, everything revolves around speed. How quick players can get to the puck, how quick they can make plays under pressure, and how quickly they can think the game. Foudy checks all three boxes, to the delight of general manager Jarmo Kekalainen and the rest of the management group in Columbus. Foudy is also a tremendous leader. He was given the “A” during the 2018-19 campaign with the Knights and this season, he wore the coveted “C”. A team like the Knights won’t’ just “slap the C” on anyone, so you know that they saw something special in Foudy.
Emergency Call-Up/Foudy’s NHL Debut
This season, the Blue Jackets sustained an unprecedented number of injuries to several high-caliber players. Seth Jones, Brandon Dubinsky, Cam Atkinson, Alexander Teixier, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and Josh Anderson, to name a few, all missed significant time on Injured Reserve (IR). These injuries prompted Blue Jackets Kekalainen to call up Foudy to fill a hole at center.
In two games, against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Buffalo Sabres, Foudy logged 10:22 and 18:03 of ice time respectively. He suited up between Gustav Nyquist and Boone Jenner and tallied his first NHL point (an assist) in his second game on a goal scored by Jenner. After the overtime loss in Tampa, Blue Jackets head coach, John Tortorella had high praise for the youngster. Postgame, Tortorella told Brian Hedger of The Columbus Dispatch, “I certainly liked his skating, and I liked his poise. He wasn’t timid at all.” (from “Blue Jackets rookie Liam Foudy making fast impression on coach John Tortorella”, Columbus Dispatch – 02/13/20). Foudy showed that he can handle the rigors of the NHL, and his well-rounded game were on full display.
Next Up for Foudy
After success at every level up to this point in his career, the NHL is the only plausible next step for the Blue Jackets’ top prospect. As a player, Foudy possesses the skills, hockey wherewithal, and mental ability that will place him in good standing for a long career. His time in London with the Knights allowed him to learn the game from the ground up, and to develop as both a person and player. He’s learned from the very best and is now ready to make the jump to prime time. We don’t know how the end of the 2019-20 season will unfold, but we do know that Foudy is ready to make his mark on the Blue Jackets’ roster.