At one point considered a top prospect in the Blue Jackets system, Liam Foudy has struggled to find his footing as a full-time NHL player to this point in his career. After a cold start to this most recent season, he finished on a really strong note – but was it enough to establish himself as a core piece of this team moving forward?
The Blue Jackets liked Foudy enough that they used the #18 overall selection on him at the 2018 NHL Draft. We can always look at things in hindsight and say “they should have taken (insert name) instead”; but that’s never a fair way to assess a pick at any draft. Any number of things can contribute to a prospect either making it as an NHL player – or missing entirely.
In the case of Foudy, we can point to seasons of lost development. From 2019-20 through 2021-22, Foudy got in exactly 140 hockey games across various levels (including playoffs). This wasn’t due to the lighter schedule of college hockey; this was due to various injuries and the COVID pandemic. He wasn’t even seeing regular on-ice practices. For a hockey player aged 19-22 during that time, these are crucial developmental years where he should be improving and growing his game.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t able to happen. Foudy was drafted by the Blue Jackets known as a bit of a project player. The speed and work ethic were there, but he needed time to round out his offensive game, physically mature, and learn the nuances of professional hockey. Because of all of the missed time, it’s taken him a bit longer than expected, and left many of us wondering if it’s time to move on.
This season, things sure started out on that foot for Foudy and the Jackets. He had three assists in his first four games of the season; then promptly fell off the radar, going scoreless for the next 31 contests. He finally broke that streak by scoring his first regular season NHL goal on February 18th, which came almost a full four years after he debuted in the NHL.
After that goal, he was really pretty good for the team for the balance of the year. Playing with more confidence, he earned more ice time and had 7 goals and 10 points in the final 27 games of the season for the Jackets. Not perfect, but for a guy we were all writing off around Christmas time, this was a nice bounce back from the former first rounder.
Final season stats: 62 games played, 7 goals, 7 assists, 14 points, 8 PIMs, -26, 67 shots on goal. Overall grade: C
Extrapolate his final 27 games out and he was roughly a 20 goal / 30 point player. While that doesn’t necessarily live up to first round pick expectations, that’s a respectable level of production for a bottom-six winger. Which, in reality, is where I see Foudy’s ceiling at this point. He’s a replacement level player, and I think if he’s on the third or fourth line, he’s a good fit here. He brings some size, plenty of speed, a maturing two-way game, and a touch of offense. He has one more year left on his contract, which gives him one last shot to separate himself from the pack here.