If pedigree was all it took to get an invite to the NHL then the son of Mike Foligno, Nick Foligno, would already have his ticket punched. He has worked hard, however, to step out of the long shadow that his father – who also serves as his coach in Sudbury – has cast over him.
Born in Buffalo, New York, Foligno has continued the family legacy in Sudbury. His father was a standout player for the Wolves before making his own jump to the NHL. The prodigal son returned to coach in Sudbury and brought his son aboard. But instead of living off a sense of entitlement, the younger Foligno has shown the willingness to roll up his sleeves and lead his team both off and on the ice.
2004-05: After a solid rookie season where he scored 10 goals and 28 assists in 65 games, Foligno had a coming-out of sorts in the 2005 playoffs when he ramped up his production and scored five goals and five assists in 12 games.
2005-06: Foligno continued to improve and averaged better than a point-per-game en route to a 70-point total in 65 games. He’s combined a familiarity with getting to the net (10 goals in year one, 24 in year two) with a familiarity with the penalty box. In two seasons, the young forward has racked up 257 penalty minutes, in large part due to his proficiency at getting into the corners and in front of the net.
Foligno did not make a good impression with Team USA and was subsequently cut from the World Junior team.
2006-07: Following a decent training camp with the Ottawa Senators, Foligno returned to Sudbury. Lofty expectations were placed on his shoulders when he was named Alternate Captain. In addition to leading the team, Foligno was also expected to continue his offensive production. He did not disappoint and led the team in scoring while setting career highs with 31 goals and 56 assists in 66 games. His steady play earned him a trip to the OHL All-Star game where he notched a goal and an assist.
The Sudbury Wolves finished a mediocre season with 67 points, good enough for third in the Central Division and a playoff spot. Foligno’s playoff performance was a key factor in Sudbury’s second OHL Final appearance in franchise history. In the Finals, Sudbury fell to the Plymouth Whalers in six games despite Foligno’s nine-point effort. Altogether, Foligno scored 12 goals, 17 assists and was a +14 in 21 playoff games.
2007-08: Foligno made his Senators debut at the regular season opener on Oct. 3 against Toronto. He recorded his first NHL goal on Oct. 18 against Montreal. After a short 14 game campaign with Ottawa, Foligno was assigned to AHL Binghamton for the first time on Nov. 14. He recorded an assist in his first career AHL game on Nov. 16 against Philadelphia. Foligno appeared in all four of Ottawa’s post-season games against Pittsburgh, and recorded his first career playoff goal on Apr. 14, the lone goal in a 4-1 loss. He was ranked fourth among B-Sens rookies in scoring with 19 points, six goals, and 13 assists even though he dressed for only 28 games.
Not a huge goal scorer, Foligno is nonetheless a rugged forward with some skill who is not afraid to put his body in jeopardy in order to engineer a scoring chance. Apparently the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Foligno often plays with a chip on his shoulder. He combines an ability to put the puck in the net with the willingness to get his nose dirty and do the hard work in the corners.
He is a decent skater and is regularly involved, but one knock on him has been that he is sometimes selective in when he wants to work and compete. Foligno possesses a quick wrist shot and shows good hockey sense and vision. He makes creative plays and can impress with some nifty stickhandling. He is an opportunistic offensive player who is often found in the right place at the right time. Like most young forwards, work on the defensive aspects of the game is definitely required.