While they’re not a playoff team, the Buffalo Sabres have plenty of emerging talent that should help the club change their fortunes in the near future.
The difficult realities of the rebuilding years appear to be in the rear view mirror and the club is close to turning a corner. Youngsters such as Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, and Rasmus Ristolainen have performed well and they will continue to improve in the coming seasons. Amid the strength of Buffalo’s youth movement, other Sabres are also contributing and working hard to take the club to the next level.
Marcus Foligno has made strides and is setting career highs on offense. According to CapFriendly.com, Foligno is a restricted free agent after this season. The question of whether or not the forward fits into the Sabres’ long term plans will be given more clarity during the offseason. However, the 24-year-old has positioned himself to enter negotiations for his next contract on the heels of his most productive NHL season.
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Marcus Foligno’s Path to the NHL
Marcus Foligno was born in Buffalo, NY and hockey has played a crucial role in his upbringing. His father, Mike Foligno, played in the NHL from the 1979-80 season through the 1993-94 season which included 10 seasons with the Buffalo Sabres. According to Eliteprospects.com, in 1018 career games the former captain of the Sabres scored 355 goals and 727 points. Marcus’ older brother Nick is currently the captain of the Columbus Blue Jackets and he has also spent time playing for the Ottawa Senators.
Marcus Foligno played his junior career with the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves. In 245 games with the Wolves he scored 54 goals and 139 points. Not only was he a valuable player on the ice for his junior club but Foligno also was an endeared member of the Sudbury community. A former captain of the Wolves, Foligno was involved in the community through volunteer and charity work for which he was recognized by his club.
Foligno on '11 WJC here with Team Canada: " It was just amazing. The whole tournament itself was crazy, hectic but it was a lot of fun."
— Mike Harrington (@ByMHarrington) December 3, 2015
While Foligno was born in Buffalo, he competed internationally for Canada. He was a member of Team Canada in the 2011 World Junior Championship playing on a roster that included former Sabres’ forward Zack Kassian, Nashville Predators’ defenseman Ryan Ellis, and St. Louis Blues’ forward Jaden Schwartz.
The tournament was played in Western New York at HSBC Arena (now the First Niagara Center) in Buffalo and Dwyer Arena at Niagara University in Lewiston, NY. Russia won gold at the tournament while Canada took home the silver medal.
Foligno and the Buffalo Sabres
Foligno was selected by the Sabres in the fourth round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He began playing for the Rochester Americans in 2011-12 and he also played 14 games for Buffalo that season. During his AHL career with Rochester, the forward notched 26 goals and 66 points in 93 career games.
The 24-year-old plays a physical game and works well on the forecheck for the Sabres. However, his critics have argued that he needs to contribute more on offense. In 258 career games as a member of the Buffalo Sabres Foligno has 36 goals and 91 points. In the 66 games that he’s played in this season, the forward has responded to his critics by posting career highs in goals (10), points (21), and his 11 assists are within two of tying his previous career high.
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) March 17, 2016
Foligno has recently developed chemistry on a line with Brian Gionta and Johan Larsson. The forward has at least one point in three of his last four games. In addition, he has scored three goals and six points so far in the month of March.
As an impending restricted free agent, Tim Murray will need to decide this summer how Foligno fits into the Sabres’ long term plans. Will the forward be re-signed by the Sabres or will he perhaps be involved in an offseason trade that brings new pieces into the fold? Regardless of how things shake out, Foligno has shown improvement this season by tallying career numbers on offense, continuing to work hard on the forecheck, and filling a physical role for his club.
The Featured Image is provided by Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers.