The Philadelphia Flyers called up Tyson Foerster and Elliot Desnoyers from their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, on March 9. Wade Allison and Brendan Lemieux missed the club’s contest scheduled for that evening against the Carolina Hurricanes due to injuries. With 16 games remaining on the schedule, head coach John Tortorella should give Foerster extensive playing time for as long as he remains with the club.
His time with the Flyers may be limited due to the circumstances of his call-up. Once one of the injured forwards returns, he may be sent back to Lehigh Valley. However, the front office and coaches need to see which players from the Phantoms are ready to contribute at the NHL level. A rebuild is necessary as the Flyers will miss the postseason for a third consecutive year. The right core of players needs to be found over the next two to three years to lead them back into playoff contention. Let’s take a look at why Foerster may be a core player for them.
Foerster Can Be An Offensive Force For the Flyers
According to his 2020 NHL Draft prospect profile, Foerster’s strengths include his shot, creativity, hockey intelligence, and passing. His powerful shot is akin to Washington Capitals winger Alexander Ovechkin. His weaknesses include his defensive game and being an effective skater. In 2018-19, with the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), he finished with 10 goals and 13 assists in 64 games. He excelled with 36 goals and 44 assists in 62 contests during the following season. He received the accolade of being the player of the game for Team White in the 2020 Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Top Prospects Game totaling two goals and an assist in the contest. A credit to his success with the Colts was his head coach, the late Dale Hawerchuk.
Former Flyers general manager (GM) Chuck Fletcher credited Foerster’s offensive talent following his selection with the 23rd overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. “He has quick hands, he can make plays around the net. I think he sees the ice really well. He’s a pretty complete offensive player. In his words, I think he would tell you he has a shoot-first mentality, which certainly didn’t upset me. He has a pretty good all-around skill set” (from ‘NHL Draft: Flyers select Tyson Foerster with 23rd pick in first round, Bucks County Courier Times, 10/6/20).
Foerster Has Improved Along His Path To the NHL
A current player that has influenced Foerster’s playing style is Capitals forward T.J. Oshie. He wants to become a complete player like the veteran and emulate his skills offensively and defensively. Foerster has done well with the Phantoms as he has 18 goals and 20 assists in 56 games played this year. He received recognition as one of the two players with Lehigh Valley to represent the Atlantic Division in February’s AHL All-Star Classic. The 21-year-old had a good showing defensively against the Hurricanes with three shot blocks including a scoring chance from Andrei Svechnikov with under five minutes remaining in the second period. On March 11 versus the Pittsburgh Penguins, he finished with five hits, further demonstrating his goal of being an effective player in all facets of the game.
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He has the determination to succeed based on comments from Mark Seidel, the Colts’ Director of Scouting, “Everyone says that he can’t skate well enough but he gets there. Everyone said he’d drop off after Suzuki left but he keeps scoring. Everyone said he was a borderline selection for the Top Prospects game so he went and got the MVP. Kid is a player.”
The Flyers Need Offense
The Flyers have struggled offensively for most of the year. They are 30th in the league with an average of 2.55 goals for per game played (GF/GP). Travis Konecny, their leading offensive player with 54 points in 52 contests, has been out with an injury he sustained during the Feb. 20 contest versus the Calgary Flames. He may not return for the remainder of the year, which further diminishes their offense.
Before the start of the 2022-23 season, Tortorella gave his impressions of Foerster, “I really like him. We need skill; he can score goals. My message to him in our meeting today when we talked with him: it’s our job as coaches to teach him to play away from the puck, but I don’t want to in his way with his offensive part.” The Allison, Ontario native has an opportunity with the Flyers to display the offensive abilities he has honed along his way to the NHL.
Foerster had a solid first game with the Flyers despite not getting any points. Tortorella presented him with the task of playing on the second line with Noah Cates and Scott Laughton against the Hurricanes. The head coach credited his poise with the puck following his NHL debut. They were shut out in the game and only had their scoring chances to show for their efforts offensively. Against the Penguins, he started off on the second line with Joel Farabee and Kevin Hayes. He also has a chance to develop chemistry with young players such as Owen Tippett, Farabee, and Cates while he remains with the team.
Foerster has the potential to be a key part of the foundation the Flyers are building. He has the capability to make a difference for a franchise that remains one of the worst in the league over the last three years. Despite the transition the roster is in, starting his NHL career on the second line shows how highly Tortorella thinks of the offensive potential he can bring to a team devoid of consistent goal-scoring. He is ready to take the next step to be a dependable forward in the NHL.