Foligno’s tenure in Columbus has been a rollercoaster, as his career-best 2014-15 performance gave way to a disastrous 2015-16 before he rebounded somewhat last year. When he’s not feeling the pressure to carry the club and trying to do too much, the 29-year-old winger plays a physical, aggressive two-way game, as he topped 150 hits for the fourth straight season. He’s also a capable, if not quite elite, scoring option, and his 26 goals and 21 power-play points were the second highest totals of his career. As the young roster around him continues to blossom, Foligno should grow into his team captaincy and lead by example, avoiding any further wild swings in his production.
After stunning the league with a 73-point breakout in 2014-15, Foligno fell right back last year to the 15-goal, 35-point range he's shown through most of his career. He was clearly pressing under the weight of a big new contract, and by the time he started to rediscover his form, coach John Tortorella often had him skating on the third line. Foligno's hard-nosed style and limited skill set are better suited for that kind of role anyway, and with a number of young wingers poised to break into the NHL lineup, it's unlikely that Foligno will get the premium ice time necessary to produce another offensive explosion.
If you asked every NHL prognosticator last season to name their top 20 candidates to become breakout stars of the league, Foligno would probably have appeared on exactly none of the lists -- even after looking like a stud in the preseason. Yet that's just what happened, as Foligno blew up for 31 goals and 73 points in a stunning campaign that left those who were lucky enough to snatch him up holding a fistful of fantasy gold. Now, the challenge for the Jackets' new captain is putting on a repeat performance. He comes from captains' blood -- his father, Mike Foligno, was the Sabres' captain a couple decades ago. Foligno's certainly in great position to replicate last year, as he's slated to stick with the star-making Ryan Johansen and offseason pickup Brandon Saad on the Jackets' top line -- one that could be among the most prolific in hockey this year. But unless he starts shooting more, Foligno could see his goal total dip into the 20s -- it's awfully hard to score 30 goals on under 200 shots.
Foligno returned to form last season, scoring a career-high 18 goals and racking up 96 PIM and 210 hits. Although his game is better suited for a third-line role, he saw some action on the Blue Jackets' second line. If he hangs onto a top-six placement this season, Foligno could end up topping his previous high of 47 points.
Foligno couldn't match his 2011-12 pace after being dealt to Columbus despite a career-high 16:31 in ice time per game, and the physical edge to his play disappeared as well. The Jackets have added a lot of depth on the wings in the last six months, and if Foligno can't regain the form he showed in his final year as a Senator it wouldn't be surprising to see him sent packing. He'll need a great training camp to put himself back into the Jackets' future plans.
Foligno joins the Blue Jackets after a season in which he produced a career-high 47 points with Ottawa and, perhaps more importantly, a career-high 124 PIMs that are more reminiscent of his feisty junior days. Columbus will be looking for him to rack up his first 20-goal season and he'll be given every opportunity to claim a top-six spot, but if he can maintain the physical edge to his game that he showed in his final season as a Senator, Foligno will fit in nicely on a Jackets club that will be clawing for every point in the standings.
Like many other Ottawa forwards, Foligno had a 2010-11 season to forget. It started out well enough for the 23-year-old winger, though, as he beat out Peter Regin during the preseason to win a coveted top-6 forward position. Foligno then went on a lengthy scoring slump to start the year, not scoring his first goal until November 29 in a 4-1 loss to the Oilers. He finished the year with 14 goals, 20 assists, and a minus-19 rating. The 2011-12 season is likely a make-or-break year for Foligno, as there will soon be a number of young and highly skilled players coming through Ottawa's system that could challenge Foligno for a spot on the big club. While he is strong on his skates, Foligno does not possess great speed nor does he possess the puck skills one expects of a top-6 forward. He'll likely start the year on Ottawa's third line and see some second unit power play minutes. Twenty goals and 20 assists is about as much fantasy value as he has this season.
Foligno should start the 2010-11 season playing in the bottom six of Ottawa's forwards. If he wants to crack the top six, he'll need to show much more consistency in his game, which revolves around controlling the puck along the boards and setting himself up in front of the opponent's net. If he can remain healthy this year (he missed a total of 21 games last season), he could net around 15 goals and 25 assists. Foligno might see limited time on Ottawa's second power play unit so don't expect many power-play points from the 22-year-old winger.
The 21-year-old ended last season as one of Ottawa's most improved forwards playing on the second line with Mike Fisher and Ryan Shannon. Foligno is not afraid to fight for pucks in the corners and in front of the net. He notched 17 goals last year, so 20 goals and 30 assists is not out of the question. He could be a nice keeper in very deep leagues.
The 20-year-old wasn't supposed to make the team out of camp last year, but Ottawa's management was impressed enough to let him start the season with the big club. Foligno ended up playing in 45 games during the year, finishing with six goals and three assists during that span. Because of injuries to some key forwards going into the playoffs, Foligno was given an expanded role and didn't disappoint. He was easily one of Ottawa's best players in the first round of the playoffs as he was one of the few forwards to create any kind of offensive against the Penguins. Foligno's not afraid to get his nose dirty and will do anything in his power to cause havoc in front of an opponent's net. He's got a decent chance to start on Ottawa's second line this year, but don't expect any fireworks just yet. Foligno is a work in progress, but he should be able to crack 30 to 40 points this year.
Foligno will likely start his professional career in Binghamtom with Ottawa's AHL affilitate. Foligno, who was selected in the first round (28th overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, is one of Ottawa's better forward prospects so don't be surprised if he makes the big club out of training camp.
Foligno will be back with the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL for the 2006-07 season. As the Senators' number one draft pick in the 2006 entry draft, Foligno certainly has a future with the big team. Keep an eye on him.
Like father, like son is the Foligno motto. Young Nick is just like his dad Mike, who never took a shift off in his entire career. And like pops, Nick is a rough-and-tumble irritant to the opposition and is the consummate team player. The knock on the younger Foligno is his skating, a trait he most certainly didn't inherit from his relatively fleet-footed dad, and that could hold him back in the NHL. He projects as a checking forward if he can improve his foot speed.