Given the relatively quiet offseason the Flames have had (so far), it’s fair to say that the Spencer Foo drama would be the most notable thing to happen these past few months. The highly touted UFA had his pick of the litter, attracting offers from many NHL clubs, and had it whittled down to four. With Calgary and Edmonton on the shortlist, a front office Battle of Alberta ensued for the highly touted right winger’s signature.
Thankfully, Foo denied his hometown, instead deciding to go down the QE2 and join up with the Calgary Flames. The prize gem of the 2017 NCAA free agency class has landed comfortably in our #7 spot.
A brief history
Undrafted and unsigned in the NHL and WHL, Foo took the Junior A to college route that many hockey hopefuls take. In his first season with the Bonnyville Pontiacs, Foo finished fifth in team scoring with 30 points in 55 games. His second season was a breakthrough year, scoring 40 goals (tied for second in the league) and 67 points (sixth in the league).
His impressive displays in the AJHL and newfound goalscoring ability earned Foo a trip to college. As a 20-year-old freshman for the Union Dutchmen, Foo scored 11 goals and 14 assists in 39 games, earning a spot on the ECAC’s all-rookie team. His sophomore season was much of the same, netting 25 points again but in three fewer games. He first popped up on the Flames’ radar here, being a dev camp invitee during the 2016 edition of camp.
Perhaps the Flames had seen something no one else had. Despite his stagnancy at age 22, Foo was putting up some very strong underlying results, and he broke out in his junior year. With 26 goals and 36 assists in 38 games, Foo finished with the sixth best PPG rate for ECAC players over the past 20 years. Across the whole NCAA, Foo finished fourth in points (one point out of first place, which was a three-way tie) and third in points per game (again, 0.03 out of first place, which was a tie). He forwent his senior year and signed a contract with the Flames.
Foo’s physical tools are very evident. He is fast, strong, physical, and has a good wrist shot. He played a lot with Mike Vecchione last season, and they were extremely dangerous together, even as a PK unit. They had a huge speed and skill advantage over most opposing players. For example, if Foo or Vecchione carried the puck through the neutral zone, defenseman would typically back off at the blue line and leave a lot of space for them to exploit. You’ll see that if you watch Foo’s goals from last year. Foo and Vecchione were also really good at creating turnovers in the offensive zone. Union’s top line was purely dominant for most of the season.
Ellenthal also shared his projection of Foo at the next level of hockey.
I think Foo can be a credible NHLer, but his ceiling is probably as a useful depth/bottom six player with some skill. His physical attributes won’t be as unique at the NHL level, but I think he can hold his own and have some value, maybe as a penalty killer and someone versatile enough to play up in the lineup if needed.
Nate Owen covers ECAC hockey for USCHO.com. He shared his assessment of Foo.
Good playmaker. Has a good shot and is a solid two-way player as well. Not afraid to block shots.
Mike McMahon of College Hockey News noted Foo’s best attribute may be his work ethic.
Foo isn’t dynamic. He’s just a hard worker. He gets to the gritty areas of the ice and he outworks guys. That’s it. He is a master of the little things, winning battles and he’s a good skater. He’s really, really, really, really, REALLY fast. He’s a hockey player. He’s as tough as they come. I think he has good upside as a third liner, at least. He’s such a hard worker, he’ll earn himself a spot on the NHL roster.
What comes next?
Many are expecting Foo to compete for an NHL job right out of the gate, which makes sense. He’s an exciting right wing in a franchise that doesn’t have many of them and certainly needs one right now. Optimistically, he slots in somewhere in the bottom six and stays the course for 82 games. If you want to read a bit deeper than you should, the Flames assigned Foo an NHL number at development camp, the only other player besides Emile Poirier to have one under 40.
Realistically, Foo is probably going to start in the AHL. There are few who can immediately make that jump from the NCAA to the NHL, much less be an impact player. The winger certainly has a lot of promise, but he still lacks professional experience. In Stockton, he’ll probably be a top line winger. Maybe he’ll force the issue midway through the season.
|#20 – Ryan Lomberg||#19 – Adam Ollas Mattsson|
|#18 – Daniel Pribyl||#17 – Eetu Tuulola|
|#16 – Adam Ruzicka||#15 – Emile Poirier|
|#14 – David Rittich||#13 – Hunter Shinkaruk|
|#12 – Matthew Phillips||#11 – Jon Gillies|
|#10 – Morgan Klimchuk||#9 – Andrew Mangiapane|
|#8 – Dillon Dube|