Can a Foligno change its spots?
Marcus Foligno has six goals and 17 points in 16 games for the Rochester Americans this season. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)
Can a Foligno change its spots?
1. Courageous, hardy, resolute.
2. Marked by or showing determination; was engaged in a doomed struggle for the puck with a Foligno.
Mike Foligno had 71 points as a rookie back in 1979-80 and he reached 80 points in 1985-86. But back then, 70 was the same as 50 today, and 80 was 55 or 60. Foligno was a hustling, tenacious winger.
His son, Columbus forward Nick, has shown the same characteristics. In four full years in the NHL, Nick has been a steady 15-goal, 35-point player who broke out in his fourth campaign with 47 points. Offensively, it's clear that he has another gear still, so 55 points is not out of the question. Not in the least. But his calling card is his determination and grit and he showed a lot of that in 2011-12 when he doubled his career high in penalty minutes with 124. He also hammered out an impressive 196 hits.
Nick Foligno changes the flow of the game. He is the perfect second-line winger in that he can contribute on the scoreboard, but he adds sandpaper that is often lacking on a scoring line.
But wait. There has been another Foligno sighting. Does 21-year-old Marcus Foligno offer offensive upside, where father Mike and brother Nick do not? Let's investigate.
Statistically, Nick and Marcus have been practically the same player. In his three years with the Sudbury Wolves (Ontario League), Nick had 65 goals and 196 points in 196 games. He also added 392 penalty minutes. In Marcus' last three seasons with the Wolves, he tallied 49 goals and 128 points in 179 games, to go with 344 penalty minutes. In his second year with the Wolves, Nick had greater skill on the team around him than Marcus did in his second year, which would explain some of the point differential.
The similarities continued as rookie pros. Nick had 19 points in 28 games with Binghamton of the American League, while Marcus picked up 39 points in 60 contests with Rochester last season.
But then Marcus took his stick, held it up in the air and shouted "By the Power of Greyskull!" Well, no. But something sure happened because suddenly Marcus has become an offensive dynamo.
In 14 games with the Sabres, he picked up 13 points. This is the result of great chemistry with Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford. There are worse people to find chemistry with. Ennis, if he can stay healthy, is a potential star in this league.
Chemistry explains Marcus’ sudden outburst in March, but how does one explain the 17 points in 16 AHL games to kick off this season for Rochester? That's where I'm out of ideas. It's not the linemates. Only two other players on the team have a point per game and one of them is a defenseman (T.J. Brennan) while the other is undrafted (Brian Flynn).
Maybe Marcus got a taste of what being a scorer is like - and he's hooked. He was a potential 55-point player, but if he's decided to focus more on creating offense and if he continues to show chemistry with Ennis - and if Ennis can remain healthy - then 70-plus is possible. But that's a lot of "ifs." Too many to risk a high pick on in your pool. One-year leagues should treat him as though he'll flirt with 50 points, with upside for more (prorated over a full season). Keeper leagues should consider him as a high-50s player over the long term, but again with upside for more. And draft accordingly.
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