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FlamesNation Top 20 Prospects: #7 Spencer Foo

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).

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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.

Quotable

Alex Ellenthal covered Foo’s college days for the Union College Concordy, Union’s student paper. He shared some of his thoughts on the forward’s NCAA performance.

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.

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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.

Previously

#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


  • freethe flames

    The problem I have with Foo being ranked so high is that he is older than some of the other guys and was passed by in his draft; late bloomer I guess but he has yet to prove anything. During the scrimmage at development camp he did not wow me. Again what he and other prospects needs to do is push the pile at Penticton and at camp. I wonder who he will be lined up with for the prospect tournie?

    • Thunder1

      “Bottom six player”… great, we found someone to replace Bouma the horrible.

      “Not afraid to block shots”… good, you’ll need it ya’ plug!

      “Foo isn’t dynamic”… FUBAR!

  • FuNky ANGER

    “defenseman would typically back off at the blue line and leave a lot of space for them to exploit” This statement concerns me. In the pro ranks defensemen will play him a lot closer than in the NCAA. As much as I love the signing and would love for him to surprise management and earn a spot I feel Foo really needs at least a year or two in Stockton to learn how to play against better more experience D who won’t give him so much room. And in the NHL it would only be tougher. However that shootout goal on Parsons in development camp shows he has some good puck handling skills and may be capable of holding his own. As always, time will tell.

    • Avalain

      It’s a concern, but also an encouraging sign. Being fast is very important and can be a determining factor between making the NHL and not for a lot of people.

  • OYYC

    Plucking out some of the quotes in the article from people that have seen Foo play. Words like: “useful depth/bottom six player”; “not afraid to block shots”; “good upside as a third liner, at least”, doesn’t seem to inspire a whole whack of confidence, but maybe that’s just me.

    Even if Foo completely knocks it out of the park at training camp, the way the Flames develop their young players he’ll be in Stockton to start the year. Obviously I hope he does well, but he doesn’t look “really, really, really, really, REALLY fast” to me. In one of the highlight packages from Union, his centre Mike Vecchione looked like the better skater.

    Let’s see what Foo can do as a top liner in the AHL first. He might be knocking on the door of the big club, but there are other prospects in the same boat too. Time will tell, I suppose.

    • FuNky ANGER

      I find it funny that we basically had the same synopsis of this article and wrote it at nearly the same time and finished it nearly identical ….. “GET OUT OF MY HEAD”

    • The GREAT WW

      “the way the Flames develop their young players he’ll be in Stockton to start the year”

      The way. the flames develop their forward prospects he will go to Stockton to fizzle out…..

      The list of forwards that have come through Huska’s Stockton is non existent……

      WW

      • OYYC

        He may or may not fizzle. But the Flames never seem to take a risk on bringing up prospects too quickly. Call it the Detroit model from a years ago – let ’em percolate for a while before hitting the bigs.

        Look on the bright side, Jankowski figures to be at least one of Huska’s graduates this year. Happy days are here again.

      • JMK

        You used Klimchuk as an example of Huska’s failings last summer, yet no mention of how he improved to 43 points in 66 games? You used Poirier’s decline as an example, which has been mostly explained or at least questioned due to his personal circumstances. Jankowski and Mangiapane both put up good numbers in their first seasons, if they have good seasons this year in NHL/AHL will you stop harping on about Huska? What forwards have failed under Huska? Did any of them have a lot of potential?

    • piscera.infada

      Plucking out some of the quotes in the article from people that have seen Foo play. Words like: “useful depth/bottom six player”; “not afraid to block shots”; “good upside as a third liner, at least”, doesn’t seem to inspire a whole whack of confidence, but maybe that’s just me.

      He was a free asset that cost absolutely nothing to acquire. I’m not sure what you’re expecting. I mean, if his scouting report read as a “definite top-line winger, explosive stride, hard and accurate shot, fully-formed, and NHL ready”, would he really have been a “free asset”?

      I agree with the rest though: he should (and likely will) start in Stockton. That’s not an indictment of the player, but the reality of developing an un-drafted NCAA free-agent.

      • OYYC

        So if his scouting report was better, he would have “cost” more? Not sure I understand your logic. We both know he gets a 2 year deal, at less than 1M, that’s a given.

        If Foo was supposedly one of the more sought after college players, then I would have hoped his scouting report and potential ceiling might have been higher, that’s all. I’m not expecting anything, let him play in the AHL first, that’s the reality of his situation like you said. Time will tell, eh.

        • piscera.infada

          Not really the point–I’m speaking to “cost” of acquisition here (draft pick, trade, compensatory pick, etc.). If his scouting report was that he was a de facto legitimate prospect, he would have been drafted, and thus not a “free asset”. Legitimate question here: how many un-drafted college free agents have the kind of ceiling you’re (apparently) disappointed he doesn’t have?

          This acquisition was something of a dice roll from day one. Anyone who billed it as something more either wasn’t paying attention, or simply bought too much into the hype train. Let’s imagine for a moment he put up his college career-average of 25 points last season. Is he “one of the most sought after college players” this offseason? No chance–and the same goes for Caggiula last year, Kenney Morrison, Aston-Reese, etc..

          Foo could turn into something. Of course he could. But let’s not pretend that every (or more accurately, any) un-drafted NCAA free-agent turns into Chris Kunitz.

      • deantheraven

        Yes, let’s see what some of the other prospects have. I’m thinking the pro experience of Poirier, Shinkaruk, Klimchuk and Jankowski have to put them ahead of Foo. I don’t wanna see this guy on the big club until after the trade deadline,when we pawn off Brouwer for another hand at the draft table next year(Vegas reference).

  • Off the wall

    I watched hours of Foo highlights to see what all the hype was about.

    While I can see a skilled player, I would temper that with the fact that Vecchione was a setup man for him. Also, Vecchione looked much more interesting to me and stood out.

    I’m not sure what the Flames brass promised this young man to entice him to sign, maybe he gets the rookie treatment and gets 9 games before they make the final say?

    I hope he does well.

  • freethe flames

    I have no problem with Foo as a prospect but to have him ranked higher than guys who have had some success in the AHL is puzzling to me. Mangiapane for example is younger and just scored 20 in his rookie season in the AHL. Foo has 2 development scrimmages where he did not standout. I’m hoping he is good but the ranking a head of guys who are younger with AHL experience is what puzzles me. For the Flames to move forward guys like Foo, Poirier, Ruzicka, Pribyl [ one of them needs to be a top 9 RW. I did not include ET as he will not even be in camp. I also tend not to include guys like Fox not because I don’t think he will be a good NHLer but he is going back to the NCAA and will not be at camp. My focus is guys who have a chance to make the NHL this year or play in the AHL. The guys who have to return to the CHL; playing in Europe or the NCAA are removed from my thinking because they will not impact the team this year. Just my thoughts; I know that is not the premise of this series.

    • class1div1

      Last year they came up with a map that showed how each FN writer voted on top 20 prospects.It showed how a few writers changed the dynamics of the top 10.We shall see how there influence changed these results.

    • The Doctor

      I agree Foo is an interesting prospect but is probably ranked a little too highly in this FN series. We need to see what he does in Stockton. Guys like Klimchuk, Mangiapane have at least shown they can play the pro game.

  • SydScout

    Rarely post, read daily. Just noticed that we need to work our way diligently through the top 20 prospects whereas the tOILet’s have rudimentary articles fluffing over 28% of their roster in two players. BT is a legend. Bye, thanks FN team and happy bday Ari for a few days ago.

  • Off the wall

    Unrelated to this, but we have the best Nation site ever!

    I’ve been reading other Nation material and it’s a ghost town.
    You can almost see the tumbleweeds blowing across the screen.

    Nucks Nation is constantly fighting with one another, there’s so much animosity there.

    Leaf Nation has revamped and still no support?

    As Sydscout mentioned, Oil are fluffing overused material daily.

    It’s nice to be part of a Nation who supports their team as much as we do. We’re all really excited about our team, season and potential. Prospects and all!

    Hats off to the staff, members for making this enjoyable.

    Cheers!

    • The Doctor

      If I were a Canucks fan, I’d be pretty bitter and negative these days, so no surprise their Nation website is full of bitterness and negativity. As long as they’re funding the Sedins’ retirement portfolio, that team is going nowhere of note.

    • SydScout

      Cheers mate. I rarely go elsewhere for my Flames info, Haynesy excepted. Thanks FN, writers and commentors. See ya in Calgary in September for a couple of pre season games – GFG!

  • Just.Visiting

    Pretty balanced article when the fans have often been much less tempered in enthusiasm for him.

    I saw an interesting expression on here the other day about “recency bias”, which I think applies here. Foo had a great year last year as an older junior after more ok years in his first two years. I see him in a clump with Dube, Mange, Klimchuk and our hopes for Poirier. Perhaps he’ll separate himself from them and perhaps he won’t. What I do know is that putting him on a pedestal as a potential top nine RW coming out of camp sets him up to disappoint, which would then create an overly pessimistic assumption about his potential. Unless he dominates at camp, he should start at Stockton and transition to the pros in an environment that allows him to develop in a more systematic manner like any other prospect.

    A great series. My only disagreement so far would have been to slot Gillies here and drop the other forwards down one. I also see a tier change between top 7 and those ranked lower.

  • Just a Fan

    My opinion is that Foo starts in the NHL not because he earns a spot (we will have to wait and see) but because he was promised games as an enticement to sign.

  • everton fc

    Foo was 22 years old putting up last year’s #s. Prior, his #’s as a 20 and 21 year old weren’t stellar.

    I find it interesting that Foo scoring big points in the NCAA at age 22 translates tom all the hype that has him ranked as our #7 prospect. Even the scouts set his ceiling as “3rd line mucker w/speed”. Sounds like Lomberg, except Foo can’t fight.

    It also makes me wonder why Zach Fischer, who had a great season from all angles in The Hat, after two injury-plagued seasons… is seen by many here as a wasted pick. Is the NCAA that much better then the WHL? What I’m getting at here is this; Foo may be no better a prospect than Lomberg. Or Hathaway. Or Carroll. Or Fischer. He’s had one stellar season, overage in the NCAA. Training camp will tell a lot. But for those who think he can play w/the likes of Monahan, Gaudreau, or even Ferland… Best not to get hopes and hype up too high and be hugely disappointed.

  • Puckhead

    Assuming no trades and looking at the Flames prospect graduation to the NHL realistically over the next 2 seasons, I could see 5 prospects playing in the NHL (possibly 7 if you include goalies):

    2017/ 2018 Kulak, Janko and maybe one other player
    2018/2019 Stajan and maybe Versteeg gone, opening two forward spots

    If seven players are added in the next 2 seasons this would be quite a bit of turnover….not bad.

    • Puckhead

      And I have no idea how Ras fits into the picture. He should be on the team next year but this would require getting rid of Stone, Kulak or somebody else. Hoping Tspoon makes the team but Bart might be a better choice if it means sitting on his ars.

  • Jobu

    One downside to signing this guy. The amount of Foo puns against will be endless…
    Pity da Foo.
    Foo Fighters.
    Foo’s Rush In!
    Play the Foo
    Foo me once, shame on me.
    Foo’s errand
    Foo and his money are soon departed
    Foo Man Chew
    Chain of Foos
    Wont get Foo’d again

  • deantheraven

    Love the work you’re doing, Christian. You’re making the summer bearable. But I’m starting to get pissed about all these reports. I said it before, too many that look ready (according to reports) and not enough spots this year. Deal some dead weight or even a 2nd tier prospect or two for picks, Tre. Please. Let’s see what we’ve got by Christmas. If last year’s incarnation can pull themselves outta the toilet and still make the playoffs, surely they can do it with some of the new young guns in the line up. If not, I think most of us are confident Tre can swing an early deal to get some scoring if need be.That’s the real question mark this year. Will the Flames score enough to hold a spot in the top 8 of the division? Hopefully Johnny, Monny and Benny bounce back big, Ferland takes another step forward to solidify his spot on the top line and a fresh face or two make the Calder conversation.

  • Fan the Flames

    After watching highlights from his college games and the prospect camp I expect him to be a Flame soon . He may be in Stockton to start the season but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the NHL sometime during the season .

    • Stockton's Finest

      Welcome the A, Foo. Let’s see what you can do on our crappy ice. He needs a season at pro level to get ready. Watching Janko last season mature was worth it. His attitude after his short stint with the big club did his game wonders. He came back and carried the Heat to the playoffs. I see Foo doing the same thing. Start in Stockton, get a 5 game call up, come back to Stockton and lead us to a Calder Cup birth again. And, like Janko, earn an All-Rookie team honor.

      On a side note, when me and Mrs. Finest get our call up (looking at February), I will be reaching out to my new friends for some advise on sections. Right now, we are looking at either 111 or 112. Thoughts?

  • Carl the tooth

    Foo,s college numbers are similar to Jankowski .but a higher breakout season for Foo in College . He makes some pretty sweet plays in tight and in lots of traffic .seems to always pick up the loose pucks in front . His shot is deceptive,accurate and a quick release . Kids got some jam and he was only about 15 points shy of gaudreau’s Hobey baker season . I think he will play himself into the lineup. If jagr signs it really doesn’t leave much room for foo,jankowski,Lazar. Can’t wait for prospects tourney.

  • McRib

    Spencer Foo is 23 years old, no way is he a better prospect than Dillon Dube or Andrew Mangiapane. Foo was still playing Midget AAA at 18 years old, while Dube was putting up 1.38 PPG in the WHL. Nothing is more overrated than NCAA FAs, I like everyone hope Foo turns into a star, but he is a 23 year old who hasn’t put up elite points at any level until last year, playing with another Top FA in Michael Vecchione.

    • CanucksArmy gave them similar probabilities – 40%- for their seasons, FWIW. I also think Foo is high on a lot of FN writer’s rankings and higher than some like Mangiapane and Dube not because he’s far and away better (they’re likely all to be around the same, at the end of the day), but likely because he plays a critical position that the Flames actually need right now.

      (also: we pulled apart the Vecchione thing. Foo was more critical to his success rather than vice versa)