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Top 25 under 25, no. 7: Nick Foligno

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 31: Nick Foligno #71 of the Ottawa Senators really wants some pizza parma (<em>with prosciutto, that's-a so nice</em>).  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 31: Nick Foligno #71 of the Ottawa Senators really wants some pizza parma (with prosciutto, that's-a so nice). (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Mamma mia! Can you believe that Nick Foligno is on this list?

Considering he's played the better part of five seasons with the Senators--only six player from his draft class have played more NHL games than Foligno--it's hard to believe that Foligno's still under 25 years old. But he is.

Over the course of his five-year career, Foligno has steadily improved his offensive output, and set a career high this season with 47P (15G, 32A), good for fifth on the team in scoring despite playing mostly third-line minutes. He's got amazing hands and a good nose for the net, every once in a while showing an amazing pass, terrific commitment to a play, or absolutely ridiculous dangles--plus he can hit and, when necessary, he'll drop the gloves.

What more could you ask for?

Considering his role, there isn't much more you can ask for--aside from perhaps a little more consistency. One problem with Foligno is that he has amazing hands, but rarely seems able to finish the play. His best moves often come between the blue lines, or while skating into the corners or along the boards, which aren't prime scoring positions on the ice. Forty-seven points is terrific for a third-line player, but when you see him stickhandling he looks, at times, like a player capable of even more. He seems like a third-liner on the cusp of becoming a second-liner, if only he could add a little finish to the flair.

Maybe all Foligno needs, though, is a consistent opportunity to play with skilled players in the top-six to demonstrate that he can be a top-six forward. This season, before the acquisition of Kyle Turris, Foligno was a very capable second-line centre. And later in the year, he played on the wing on that second line with Turris and Daniel Alfredsson, and he fit in well then, too. Yet, for whatever reason, he's usually bumped back down the lineup and into a checking role on the third or even fourth line.

But players like Foligno are designed for the playoffs. He's got that edge to his game, and walks the line between legal and illegal quite precariously. That works a lot better in the playoffs than it does in the regular season, and you can bet that Henrik Lundqvist will get to know Nick Foligno very intimately during the first-round matchup between the Sens and the New York Rangers.