Saturday, June 30, 2018

Blues get first look at Foley, like what they see

Prospect acquired from Winnipeg in Stastny trade built to 
be power forward in NHL, impressed during prospect camp

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- A media throng was standing inside the Blues' locker room inside the Ice Zone this past week waiting for prospects to filter in for potential interviews.

When Erik Foley entered, he did so sans shirt, and it was sort of a message saying, 'Yeah, I'm here, and I'm ripped.' The shoulders are broad, rippling off the neck of the 21-year-old that Blues fans didn't know much about until getting a glimpse of the 6-foot, 185-pounds of him at prospect camp this past week.

Foley, who turned 21 Saturday, came to the Blues in the Feb. 26 trade that also brought with it a first-round pick in 2018 from the Winnipeg Jets for Paul Stastny, gave Blues fans a taste of that he hopes is a solid career in the Blues' organization.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues prospect Erik Foley scores a goal for Providence College last season.

Foley comes from Providence College, where he had 35 points (16 goals, 19 assists) in 38 games and had 88 points (38 goals, 50 assists) in 110 games for the Friars over three seasons.

Foley was a third-round pick by the Jets in the 2015 NHL Draft and was taken aback by the trade.

"It was definitely surprising, but the [Winnipeg] organization treated me with respect," Foley said. "That's just a part of hockey. I'm happy to be a Blue and I'm humbled to be a part of a great organization.

"I was actually taking a nap in my bed and I got a call from Winnipeg, Manitoba, I picked it up and it was (Jets GM) Kevin Cheveldayoff and [Craig] Heisinger, the assistant GM and they told me that they made a move at the deadline. Stuff happens. I thanked them, they thanked me and then I got a call from St. Louis about a minute after and they welcomed me to the organization. ... My phone started blowing up after that because I think a tweet got announced or something, but I called my mom, I called my dad and I was just kind of a little thrown off but it's still just a part of the game."

Now Foley, who played with Blues defensive prospect Jake Walman in Providence for two seasons, got a congratulatory text from Walman and is eager and excited to turn the chapter to his new life with the Blues; he signed a three-year, $2.775 million entry-level contract on March 29 and will more than likely head to San Antonio of the American Hockey League and play for the Rampage next season.

Unless he just absolutely steals the show at training camp in September.

"He's very strong," Blues director of player development Tim Taylor said of Foley. "I was fortunate to watch him after the trade for three weekends in a row. He's very well-coached at Providence with Nate Leaman there. The structure of his game, I think, will turn over to the pro level. He's already been on a team that plays very defensive orientated. Lots of times, that's the biggest thing you need to teach these young kids is defense. He's got that instilled. The next level now, can he skate with the puck, can he move with the puck consistently at the level that he needs to play at the NHL. My short term getting to know him, he's a very strong man so he brings a lot of impact in his game. We're hoping that he is that waterbug that chases down pucks consistently and creates turnovers. We're really looking for guys that are really hungry to play the game and hopefully he is one of those guys.

"I see him as a third-, fourth-line guy that really brings a lot of energy to the game and is hungry on the puck and never gives up on pucks and creates turnovers. I guess Scottie Upshall would be a guy that we'd hope that he can play like because he's got that structure. He just has to get his speed to like that. That's the new wave of the fourth line guys, they have to be able to skate, they have to be able to create energy on the ice and you have to be able to trust them in those situations and at the same time, you have to score some goals."

Foley fits the mold of a power forward that displayed some strong speed and skill with the puck who doesn't hesitate to shoot it, whether it be a one-timer from the circle, slapper from distance or wrister from the slots. 

"I think I fit in pretty well here," Foley said. "I think my style of game will hopefully translate well for them. I'm going to do everything I can to show them that. If that doesn't work out, maybe take a year in the AHL or whatever it takes. I think I fit in well.

"I would probably say an offensive power forward. I like to work from the wall out. I get the puck along the wall, maybe spin out, take it to the net. I like to create offense from there, use my body and be heavy and use my shot as well. ... I'll go in front of the net, try to use my hands around the net. Good, soft touches or find a loose puck and bang it home, kind of that style of play. ... I'll throw a little bit of fancy in there once in a while, but I'm just more of a run-and-gun type of player."

Foley's season ended rather unceremoniously when he sustained a concussion against Notre Dame in a 2-1 loss in the East Regional Final, a season in which Foley felt the Friars could make a Frozen Four run. But he is back and 100 percent healthy.

"Yeah, I feel good now," Foley said. "It was a tough way to go out. You don't want to go out like that, but it was tough watching the boys play in the locker room, but when you get those types of injuries, you have to take caution and go slow with them.

"... I honestly thought we were going to make the Frozen Four. I was in the locker room actually and I heard someone score because the crowd started going crazy and then I heard Notre Dame's fight song going on so I got a little rattled there. It's a part of the game and stuff happens."

Foley came to St. Louis and be evaluated by Blues doctors before going to San Antonio at the end of the season to take in a few games; he did not play but was able to get on the ice.

After taking some time to think about the trade and change of scenery and life pointing him in a different direction, Foley holds no grudges against the Jets. As a matter of fact, he pulled for the Jets in the playoffs with friends (Kyle Connor and Jack Roslovic) on the team.

"There's no hard feelings with Winnipeg," he said. "It's a part of the game. They wanted to make a playoff push and they got a really good player in Paul. No hard feelings to them. It's just a part of the game, but I'm happy that St. Louis wanted me and I'm happy to be a Blue now."

Foley is committed to the Blues and was one of the more notable skaters among prospects this week.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Prospect Erik Foley will likely play his first pro season for the Blues' AHL
affiliate in San Antonio in 2018-19.

"Good, powerful kid," Blues coach Mike Yeo said. "I thought that he did a good job this week. You could tell that the tools are there. When you see him on the ice, the way he shoots the puck, the way he skates, you can see that the power is there. ... Another guy I'm anxious to see in some 5-on-5 play."

Foley, who models his game after that of San Jose's Evander Kane, checked off many, if not all, the boxes he wanted to coming in. 

"I just want to come in here and meet the staff, meet some of the guys around here, get familiar with the city. That's what I'm trying to take away, put a good first impression on the coaches and the GM's, but besides that, just kind of be a sponge and soak it all in.

"I haven't really gone over (plans) with them with that, but I just know they wanted me and it's a good sign. I'll let them do the stuff up there in the offices and I'll just play my game."

No comments:

Post a Comment