It’s been two months of American Hockey League (AHL) call-ups for the injury-riddled Colorado Avalanche. The Avs have pretty much emptied their prospect cupboard, which includes Jean-Luc Foudy. Still young at 20 years old, his path to professional hockey was accelerated a couple of years ago when he headed to the AHL and stuck there, thanks to the junior exemption at the time. Now, he’s in the NHL due to injuries, and he hasn’t disappointed.
Foudy Impresses in First 7 Games
Since his call-up on Nov. 28, Foudy has played seven games with the Avalanche, his first in the NHL, and looking only at his stat line, he’s done nothing: no goals, no assists, a plus/minus rating of minus-2, six penalty minutes and 12 shots on goal.
Yet, Foudy has brought so much more than numbers. He has tried to re-establish the identity of the Avs’ bottom-six; hard-working, fast, and relentless on the forecheck, something we’ve hardly seen from the other players added to the roster.
He’s not scored points, but no one called up from the Eagles has. Sampo Ranta and Charles Hudon both have zero, like Foudy, while Ben Meyers has one and Martin Kaut has three, though Kaut has played more than double the number of games and received top-six minutes in many of those. None of those players have managed to bring the same level of defensive play and intensity that Foudy has, though, which is the big difference-maker for him.
His lack of points is certainly not due to a lack of trying. In his most recent game, against the Philadelphia Flyers on Dec. 13, Foudy made two great passes to Mikko Rantanen and Jacob MacDonald, but neither could finish their chances. This comes on the back of other plays in previous games that have gotten him close.
We’ve also seen the coaching staff put trust in him. The Avs like to lean on the top of their forward core while giving their fourth line limited minutes. In seven games, Foudy is averaging more than 10 minutes of ice time per game and has been trusted to play in all situations.
Foudy looks the most promising for the team’s future, despite having a couple of bumps in the road along the way. He was drafted 75th overall in the 2020 NHL Draft, and if his stock keeps rising, the Avalanche could see good value from that pick.
Avalanche System & Foudy’s Game Fit Perfectly
If I describe the type of player that head coach Jared Bednar wants in his bottom-six, I would pretty much be describing Foudy’s game.
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He’s quick enough to play with any player on the roster, Nathan MacKinnon included, and very few players can say that. Foudy’s forecheck is relentless, and he doesn’t allow defensemen any time on the puck in their own zone, which has already created turnovers for his line.
We’ve also seen his defensive responsibility, something few others from the Colorado Eagles have shown, and they’ve been criticized for it by Bednar. Yes, a minus-2 rating doesn’t show that, but the Avalanche have struggled recently, fielding an AHL-quality roster against some of the best in the NHL, so his rating isn’t actually too bad.
Jean-Luc Foudy’s Future Avalanche Role?
Foudy still has plenty of upside, and while we may have learned plenty about him over the past couple of weeks, there are still many questions. However, based on what we have seen from him during this short stint, he has shown that he can be a fourth-line regular and should be targeting a full-time roster spot from next season onwards.
From the day he was drafted, Foudy’s speed has been one of his strengths, and given how much the Avalanche rely on that for their game plan, it makes sense to have him in the NHL. Even if the scoring doesn’t materialize, his speed and work ethic alone should be enough to stake his claim.
If both Andrew Cogliano and Darren Helm move on this summer, that will immediately open up two spots on the fourth line, regardless of anything else that happens further up the roster. Everything Foudy does from now until opening night of the 2023-24 season, whether it’s with the Avalanche or the Eagles, should be working toward grabbing one of those spots.
Of course, Foudy could go further, but for now, he has every tool needed to make a success of his bottom-six role. Let’s hope he shows improved stats and more development during this NHL opportunity this season.