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FlamesNation Top 20 Prospects 2018: #6 Spencer Foo

The Flames have long been devoid of right wingers. They’ve taken a couple of steps to try to rectify that – signing Troy Brouwer was one, acquiring Elias Lindholm and James Neal is probably a better route – but in between those moves, they won the bidding war for undrafted third-year NCAA right-shooting right winger Spencer Foo.

Foo chose the Flames in part because their lack of depth at the position gave him more of an opening than he might have had with another team. Now entering his second professional year, there may just be that spot available for the 24-year-old  6′, 190 lb. forward – but he’ll have to earn it.

How did we get here?

Originally from Edmonton, Foo got his start playing in local minor hockey, where he put up decent, if unspectacular, under a point per game numbers. (Playing midget in 2010-11, he had 27 points in 34 games; for comparison, Morgan Klimchuk, a year his junior, was one of the league’s top scorers with 50 points in 32 games that same season. Foo had 25 points in 34 games the following season, while Klimchuk was in the WHL.)

In 2012-13, Foo joined the AJHL as an 18-year-old, playing the first of two seasons for the Bonnyville Pontiacs. He had 30 points in 55 games that season, fifth on his team in scoring. The following year, he scored 67 points in 60 games, leading his team in scoring by 16 points and placing sixth in overall AJHL scoring.

Twenty years old for the start of the 2014-15 season, Foo made the jump to the NCAA, playing his first of three seasons for Union College. In his first year he scored 25 points in 39 games, good for sixth in team scoring; in his sophomore season he had a marginal improvement by scoring 25 points in 36 games, jumping up to second in team scoring.

With a largely unimpressive – though not terrible – career to that point, Foo exploded for the 2016-17 season, his third year playing for Union. He scored 26 goals and 62 points over 38 games, more than doubling his college productivity and drawing the attention of NHL teams. He finished second in team scoring, a year behind senior Mike Vecchione, who had 63 points in 38 games (and, perhaps more importantly, with a 50-point season under his belt during Foo’s rookie year, a slightly better track record for scoring at the NCAA level). He was also fourth in NCAA-wide scoring: the top three scorers all had just one more point than he did.

Foo left college a .99 point per game player, foregoing his senior year to sign in Calgary.

Stats, numbers, and everything therein

Foo spent most of his first professional season playing in the AHL, but earned himself a late NHL call-up to get him some big league experience, briefly taking him out of Stockton’s lineup at the time of a playoff push.

League Games played Goals Assists Points Shots
AHL 62 20 19 39 161
NHL 4 2 0 2 16

In the AHL, Foo finished tied for third in team scoring with Rasmus Andersson; only Andrew Mangiapane (46 points) and Klimchuk (40) scored more than he did. He was tied for 17th overall in AHL rookie scoring. He led the Heat with 161 shots on net over the season, which was also tied for sixth most among all AHL rookies.

For a college-to-pro comparison, Foo’s teammate at Union, Vecchione, scored 40 points in 65 games over the course of his first AHL season.

Foo’s first and second NHL goals came against Connor Hellebuyck and Marc-Andre Fleury in the final two meaningless games of the year.

For a deeper dive into Foo’s numbers, revisit Christian Tiberi’s writeup on him here.

Those in the know

As the Stockton Heat’s former assistant coach – and now, its new head coach for the 2018-19 season – Cail MacLean worked a lot with Foo over his first professional season:

I think that he’s a very studious and intense young man that he gets consistency as well. And I think that he learned over the first half of the season some of the detail that needed to come into play in order to be effective every time he was on the ice, once he started to get that there’s no question he was willing to commit to that with his work ethic. He’s a gritty player, he’ll go to those areas and he’ll compete to find pucks and compete to make sure that he’s in the right positions. It just takes him a little bit to time to latch onto the correct approach but I think once he does, I give him a lot of credit for what he’s willing to give and his maturity as a pro to make sure that he’s good and consistent from game to game.

And of course, we’ve got input from Stockton’s Finest, our resident Heat correspondent:

He was the most improved player on the Heat. Foo took a little time to adjust to the pro game, but once he settled in, he was good. He was one of a handful of players that actually knew where the front of the net was and that he could score off rebounds if he paid the price. He likes to shoot, pacing the team with 161 shots on goal. At the beginning of the year, it was like he was shooting just to shoot, but the last half of the season he shot with purpose.

On the horizon

Foo could be an NHL regular as soon as this season.

By buying out Brouwer, the Flames have opened up an avenue for a prospect to make the team as a regular, and Foo’s name is definitely among the group that should be top candidates competing for the spot over training camp. While the Flames’ right wing depth has gotten better with the additions of Neal and Lindholm, there’s still always room for improvement, top to bottom: and if he’s NHL-ready now, he should be able to make the team.

The opportunity is there. The rest of it is up to him. If not, then a good AHL season doesn’t hurt, either – but already 24, the sooner Foo proves himself, the better.


#20 – Martin Pospisil #19 – Demetrios Koumontzis
#18 – Emilio Pettersen #17 – Filip Sveningsson
#16 – Milos Roman #15 – Dmitry Zavgorodniy
#14 – D’Artagnan Joly #13 – Adam Ruzicka
#12 – Linus Lindstrom #11 – Glenn Gawdin
#10 – Morgan Klimchuk #9 – Jon Gillies
#8 – Tyler Parsons #7 – Matthew Phillips

 



  • Off the wall

    I have 3 wishes for this season;

    1. The Flames beat the Oilers every game
    2. That the BEST prospect wins the job, regardless of handedness
    3. We see playoff action and actually do something

  • Off the wall

    I’m just glad Brouwer’s not an option this season.

    Interesting Foo chose Calgary to sign with. Imagine if Treliving didn’t make all the changes on RW.

    We might be talking about Foo as a middle six, instead of a 4th line hopeful?

    • Kevin R

      I think the transition is starting to take place. Next year we will need cap space to sign Tkachuk, a #1 goalie & possibly Bennett to a 5-6 year deal. Im not ruling out Smith as a possible option going forward, I just think its unlikely. But we have 4.2 mill from his expired deal, but Stone’s 3.5 mill is debatable being on this roster going into this season & should be dealt with in the next 12 months, but I see one of Brodie or Hamonic potentially being moved with Andersson & Valamaki pushing for 2 spots & I think Frolic’s $4.2 mill spot is being pushed as well. It’s Frolics position that I see both Foo & Czarnik fighting for. Which is perfect because Frolik is a pretty darn good player to push out of his spot on probably the 3rd line. Im sure Frolik will have a rebound season to answer back to these young guys. This is a real big year for several players on this team.

  • Garry T

    When you compare Foo to Hathaway, there is no comparison in terms of growth as a player to date and potential. Foo is hands down the better player. Towards the end of the year you could see him shooting with purpose as opposed to blasting away. He can play. With all the new guys signed , I would be going through my notes on guys that called on Hathaway and let them know he may be coming available and that we would want a 3 pick for him. I really like the idea of a Peluso in the system and I was a great admirer of Rychel as a pup. Often wondered why he never played his junior style in the A or NHL. He was a very effective player and now has the man size to go with his game

  • aye

    Love Tkachuk’s quotes in the article on Flames website about wanting team over individuals, particularly “If people are putting themselves ahead of the group this year, I don’t want that around.”
    Can’t put it any better than that! That is leadership right there! This kid’s character and leadership qualities reminds me so much of Iggy. I say give him Brouwer’s “A” this season, and take over from Gio in 2 years.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Sounds like Chucky might be taking a swipe at last season’s player leaders, notably Cappy. In effect, if Cappy can’t lead, then he needs to follow.

      The Flames have had some gawd awful teams in the past, but the manner in which the club collectively quit after the all-star break was unprecedented in history of bad Flames hockey. To be sure injuries took their toll and doubtlessly some players had tuned out their coaches by then, but the idea of quitting on each other was deplorable and unmatched in team history. When Reaves just about killed Brodie, who stood up for TJ?

      Presumably, Stajan and Brouwer were huge character guys, so they were apparently not the problem. Does that mean Hamilton and Ferland were? I would argue the trouble ran much deeper than those two. The club was a flaming mess last season. How much of that can be pinned on Gio and his As? I don’t know the answer, but Chucky seems to have said a whole lot of ugly in his quote.

  • Just.Visiting

    I was very pleased with what I’d seen at the end of the year. I thought that he was always visible, that his work ethic was consistently high and that he had no hesitation in going for the net and looking to shoot. While he was admittedly playing with better players than the typical Stockton forward callups, he left a positive impression, rather than getting a participation badge.

    In competition for a bottom six job.

    Those closer have a better perspective than I do on his defensive positioning, although the effort seemed to be there.

    • Getpucksdeep

      At the time Foo had his tryout, Monahan and Tkachuk were both on the shelf. Aside from JG, who are these better players Foo skated with? I clicked on teams out of the playoffs a while back and looked at their late season tryout guys. Not one player anywhere including Zykov in Calrolina who had 3G 4a in 12 games, went on the attack the way Foo did. I’ll say it again …16 shots on goal in 4 games. No one would think he’s able to maintain such a 300 shot/yr pace but the top scorers in the league always take 200+ and thats well within his wheelhouse. No one else anywhere even came close and Mangiapane, who so many of you seem to think is the next one, had a mere 6 shots in 10 games. I like Dube’s chances over Mangiapanes. As for “ranking” LOL these lists are so subjective I doubt any 2 guys would come up with the same lists. Good AHL results like Mangiapane and Czarnik don’t always translate to the show. Foo may not be the next one but at least he did took advantage of his opportunity.

      • Justeen Trudope

        Well Johnny alone playing short handed is better then the crap Mangi was saddled with most of his time. Not only did Foo play with extremely better linemates, he also got a lot more playing time. I agree Foo looked good and you have to love he shoots a ton but to compare Mangiapane and Foo’s time in Calgary is the old apples to oranges thing. I think Foo has a great chance to make the team but stick him with Srajan and Brouwer and and I am willing to bet he doesn’t take advantage of his opportunity

  • freethe flames

    This should be a very competitive training camp. There are 10 spots at forward that I would say are locks leaving 2 spots for everyday players and the 13/14 roles. On the left side battling for these positions are Dube, Mangiapane, Rychel, and Klimchuk. Foo is in a battle on the right side with vets Hathaway, Lazar, along with rookie Phillips, Czarnik and Buddy; the last two also being AHL bubble players. Let the battles begin. I have no idea who will win the jobs but it’s nice to know there will be competition and guys pushing from the AHL if someone falters.

    • Jagrrrrr, baby. Yeah.

      I think folks have been assuming (at least I have) that of those 4 open spots you mention, Hath and Laz are a lock for 2 of them. But what if they’re not?
      Maybe Mangi and Dube split time on LW, and Foo and Czarnik on RW. Everybody gets 50/50 games/press box, until such time as one guy runs away with the position. Let’s say on RW it’s Foo. Then Czar gets sent to Stockton to play lots and Hath or Laz gets brought up to eat popcorn with the radio crew. If nobody runs away with it, they still each get about 40 NHL games, and maybe that’s better than 60-70 in the AHL (however long their season is).
      Thoughts?

      • Brian McGrattan's Salute

        I would say this might be an alright idea, but dube should probably get a full season to AHL time anyways. Further, like chemistry would be hard to develop this way.

      • Willi P

        Czarnik is on a one-way so he wont be going to Stockton. He was sought after by a lot of teams. Unless Foo blows it out of the water, he would likely go down before Hathaway and Lazar unless BT wants to risk losing one or both.

        • aye

          Don’t think it would be much of a loss if some team actually wants to take Hathaway or Lazar’s contract off of the Flames hands. I don’t think too many fans would be upset with losing either one.

          • Korcan

            I won’t be surprised if Lazar is not in Calgary come puck-drop in October. Out of the two, Hathaway brings some intangibles that Lazar doesn’t, which will likely keep him on the roster for fear of losing him for nothing to another team. I don’t see Lazar getting picked up by another team if waved and even if he does, no biggie — it just frees up more cap. Is there anything he brings that couldn’t be equally provided by any of Buddy, et al?

      • Bean-counting cowboy

        I’ve thought about this as a potentially good option. Let’s say Mangiapane makes the team as 4th line LW with Jankowski and Czarnik as his linemates.

        If Klimchuk and Rychel show better in camp than Lazar and Hathaway. Why not rotate those guys in with Mangiapane and Czarnik on a regular basis? Injuries will also play a factor. Hathaway can be called up and it won’t hurt him to sit in the box while Klimchuk and Rychel get the minutes. Lazar factors in as the 2nd call up.

        Another thing that might see this theory come to fruition… cap space. Flames almost went to arbitration with Hathaway. He is at $850,000 and Lazar is at $950,000. Tre probably not thrilled he had to dish out that much for Hathaway. Hanifin still to sign but where will we be after that? How much space will Tre want at the deadline. Klimchuk at 700K and Rychel at 650K might be more attractive options to accumulate more space for deadline and/or bonuses. Lazar and Hathaway’s total cap hit can be buried in the minors. Their agents were so busy getting them top dollar they might have priced them out of a roster spot!

      • JMK

        I agree that 40 NHL games would be quite beneficial if the player is ready for it. But whoever is there at 13/14, I hope there is competition to put pressure on everyone in the top 12 and to allow for resting players during busy periods in the schedule. I’m tired of perpetual healthy scratches like Bartowski sitting in the stands night after night. Don’t be afraid to bench anyone who might need a break or isn’t performing.

    • HOCKEY83

      I think Czarnik has taken one of those spots already. at least for the beginning of the season anyway so all that’s open is Hathaway and Lazar’s spots in the top 13 shown at Capfriendly. I’d say going into the beginning of the season there’s 1 roster spot open in the top 12 and 2 press box spots along with the 7th D spot.

  • Squishin

    I would rather see Foo make the team over players like Lazar or Hathaway, but if he’s not playing regularly, send him back down. He shouldn’t have to sit as the 13th or 14th forward.

    • everton fc

      Foo is not in the organization to sit as an extra forward. Hathaway, maybe Peluso, maybe Lazar, maybe Robinson – these guys are ideal extra forwards. Guys like Foo, Mangiapane, Klimchuk, Rychel – these guys need to play.

      I like Foo, but I see his ceiling as a 3rd line wing. Nothing more. Which is fine. Bennett-Jankowski-Foo would be an interesting line. Czarnik blocks Foo, though if Czarnik doesn’t show much at camp, and Foo does, then, perhaps, Czarnik is an extra forward (he, like Hathaway, though different players, has nothing left to show, in the AHL, unless he [Czarnik], is another D’Agostino – i.e., a career AHL player, which he may very well prove to be)

      (Off topic, but can you imagine if we could somehow pry Nylander from the Leafs?! Brodie would obviously be one asset, going East. Or Bennett. Or Both…)

    • TradeBrodie

      Garbage. You have arguably the most skilled center player 4th line lw? Also Foo is not a 4th line guy. His brief showing last season in the NHL is not a true way to judge. He got to play top line minutes in games that didnt matter.

        • TradeBrodie

          I believe so. He is the most complete center on the team. Has offensive skill and instinct, plays very well in his own end, has a nasty streak. The kid hasn’t been given an opportunity to play top 5 with good players. Monahan is not a #1 center. Hebis better suited to play #2 center or to be put over to the wing. He is lost in his own zone, terrible at positioning and not a great face off man. Backlund would be perfect for a solid 3rd line that is all shut down. Janko should play wing with Backlund to learn the 200 foot game. I would experiment with Lindholm at center on the second line. Play Ryan at the 4th line center.

          • Hockeysense9393

            I kind of agree with this assessment of Bennett to tell you the truth. It seems that when the playoffs are around, he is put in a position to excel, because of the way he plays the game. He has definitely been looked over the last couple of years, and confidence has really affected his production. He was a high pick with the attitude of that coming in. Monny and Gaudreau became buddies right away and that put him down. Then instead of putting him where he should have been put (lefty with Backs & Fro) and easing Tkachuk in, he was put down even farther. I’m not trying to take away from Tkachuk here, but Bennett was miss-used greatly and never was put in a position to get confidence. Hindsite is great of course, but looking back…? Bennett with a whole season playing with Backs and Frolik would have probably made this arguement mute. I don’t think that anybody will dispute on how good Tkachuk is, so maybe he should have been put into a position of most rookies and put in your time. It wouldn’t of killed his confidence to play a season on the 3rd line for his rookie year, and I imagine that he would have helped with say Brouwer, Lazar, and who ever else was lucky enough to play with him. If this was the way it went…I’m thinking things would be a little different today with Bennett and the team in general. Bad coaching with terrible deployments. I think everybody agrees with this point?

          • TradeBrodie

            Yes. He has been misplaced. Playing with brouwer, Hathaway, jankowski. Not exactly offensive juggernauts. I would love to see him center Tkchuck and Neal.

          • freethe flames

            That’s an opinion but little that he has done at center suggests this. I do agree that his 200 ft game has improved but that has mostly been at LW; he was taught that in his first year playing with Backs; his year at center was not very convincing nor was his addition at center last year which is why he was moved to LW playing with and behind Janko last year. You talk about his offensive instinct and I don’t see it. Monahan may not be a complete center but he has a clear role and he is very good at it. I agree with you about Backs; he is actually the most complete center on the team but how many years did that take. He can clearly be the top defensive center while still producing @15 goals a season and helping other guys elevate their games.

          • TradeBrodie

            You will hear it forever from this guy. Was bad enough listening to the clowns on here saying Brodie didnt do well because of what side he was on but he would be fine when placed with gio and on the off side. Well Bennett has a way higher ceiling than Brodie. He is a natural center. He should be given a legitimate chance. Maybe if he plays with some skill he will tone down his bonehead uber aggressive penalties. Bennett is the man. You read it hear first. My thoughts..not yours..not that yours matter!

          • Jumping Jack Flash

            How many years are we going to hear that Bennett has not played with linemates that compliment his game. In 3 years he has played with most players and all forward positions with very little results. If you compare, that to Janko who had one crack at playing on the top line….and he crushed it. It really does not matter that it was a meaningless game…. what matters is he complimented Johnny and Ferland and should have scored six….missing two empty nets.

      • freethe flames

        Your idea of having Bennett centering Tkachuk and Neal has merit but I personally would prefer it to be Janko. What I want most is for guys to play in a position to help make the TEAM the most successful.

        • TradeBrodie

          Janko didnt show much to deserve a center position in my eyes. He struggled most of the year. Yes he was playing with brouwer and Hathaway at times, but he doesnt have “it”. Bennett, Lindholm, Backlund, Ryan should be the 4 centers.

          • Jumping Jack Flash

            Your right Janko doesn’t have “it” to play on a line with Bennett and Hathaway. A 6’4” center with soft hands that can skate like the wind should be groomed for top 6 duties. The only “it” that I don’t see Janko having is the hockey frame to go with his height…. but when it comes he will be scarey good.

            Late developing players like Janko are at a disadvantage when they are younger but the fact that Janko has not grown into his body at 23 yet continues to improve every year is pretty encouraging.

          • Justeen Trudope

            I would take Jankowski’s 17 goals as a 3rd line center any day. Oh ya he was a rookie just imagine if by some crazy chance he gets better in his 2nd year playing in the NHL. Bennett might be the better talent but nothing that Bennett or Jankowski have done would suggest that Bennet is an upgrade at center.

          • fumanchu1968

            Didn’t Janko do good in the face off circle? I like Bennett as a winger and my Spidey senses tell me he is going to have a bust out year. I can feel it!

  • Off the wall

    I don’t think I’d like to be in a negotiation room with Treliving.
    He’s stated that Hanifin will be signed before training camp, however I wonder how long he’s going to drag this on for?

    I could imagine him saying, “We’ve got a lot of mouths to feed, when will you come at me (agent) with a meal, rather than a buffet ?”

  • The Fall

    So, our number 3 forward prospect isn’t even a draft pick, and was signed after one good college season playing against younger competition…?!

    Not to mention the Flames still only have three picks in next years draft.

  • aye

    This is Foo’s contract year, and being 24 already, if he’s not kicking the door down this season, he might not even get qualified next year.

    I think the following line combo might be interesting, and give good balance to all 4 lines.

    Johnny – Mony – Neal
    Chucky – Lindholm – Foo
    Benny – Backs – Ryan
    Frolik – Janko – Czarnik

    No explanation needed for the 1st line. Chucky and Lindholm are solid all around players with good set-up skills, and Foo can be the shooter. Backs and Ryan are good players that play a responsible 2-way game, and maybe can help Bennett get on track. Frolik’s hard forechecking is suitable for the 4th line, and he is versatile and good enough to play anywhere and help his line mates.
    Due to contract and possible Expansion draft considerations, Mangi and Dube can spend another year in Stockton and occasional call-ups. Especially Dube, as a first year pro, it certainly won’t hurt to transition him slowly. I think AHL full-time this season, regular call-up next season, and full-time the following year.

  • everton fc

    I tired to post twice about Foo and Czarnik. Not sure why they didn’t take.

    Here’s what I was getting at;

    1. I’d like to See Foo play w/Czarnik.
    2. Articles from Matchsticks & Gasoline, and more importantly, The Hockey Writers, talk about Czarnik as a “depth-centre”. That’s the roll he was being looked at to possibly fill, in Boston. No mention of him playing the wing.
    3. A 4th line of Foo/Czarnik-Jankowski-Foo/Czarnik would be one I’d like to see.
    4. If Czarnik’s seen more as a centre, could Ryan possibly move to the wing?
    5. Does Foo have the speed to play every game in the NHL?

    Exciting camp, this will be!

  • MDG1600

    I am not investing too much emotional capital in Foo as a prospect and I think some of you are reading way to much in to his 4 game sampler in the NHL (anyone remember Sven Baertschis first call up?). The red flag for me is that as a 24 year old Foo was only the 17th highest scoring rookie in the AHL. That doesn’t exactly scream “Can’t Miss” prospect. Also, he isn’t going to get the same runway and quality icetime to take his time “adapting” to the NHL.

  • everton fc

    I get this feeling Foo will have an exceptional camp, and can convert to LW, then you have Foo-Jankowski-Czarnik. Interesting I just read an article from mid-July/Matchsticks & Gasoline, that said it was a very real possibility Czarnik might have been a front-runner for 3rd line centre. They also mention Czarnik making a possible push for 2nd line minutes here. See link below. We may have found a real steal, for a low cap hit.

    https://www.matchsticksandgasoline.com/2018/7/19/17592808/austin-czarnik-calgary-flames-boston-bruins-stanley-cup-of-chowder

    Another interesting piece on Czarnik, from Hockey News – again, Czarnik is seen as a “depth-centre”. No mention of playing the wing;

    https://thehockeywriters.com/austin-czarnik-future-opportunity/

  • everton fc

    I just lost a long, pro-Czarnik post! I’ll summarize;

    Two articles I’ll post below, seem to “sell” Czarnik, as a depth-centre. No real mention of the wing. I found this interesting. See links;

    https://www.matchsticksandgasoline.com/2018/7/19/17592808/austin-czarnik-calgary-flames-boston-bruins-stanley-cup-of-chowder

    https://thehockeywriters.com/austin-czarnik-future-opportunity/

    This is not exactly “off-topic”, as I’d like to see a line w/Foo and Czarnik. Maybe we will.