With the 23rd pick in the first round, the Flyers selected OHL winger Tyson Foerster with their first selection. For the second year in a row, the Flyers took a player that wasn’t off the board per se but was nonetheless taken slightly earlier than anticipated.
While I would have personally preferred one of WHL center Connar Zary. Ridley Greig or OHL center Jacob Perreault, Foerster has some solid qualities that make him a potential second-line winger at the NHL level.
Foerster came out of nowhere this season to put himself in first-round consideration in the NHL draft. With 36 goals and 80 points in a shortened season in the OHL, Foerster showed he can put up points against his peers.
Foerster’s biggest asset is his shot. He has an absolute cannon. As seen in the video below, Foerster can absolutely rip it from pretty much anywhere. Whether slap shot, one-timer, or wrister, Foerster has an elite, NHL caliber shot already. It is by far his greatest asset. Foerster’s shot led to 18 powerplay goals, an excellent feat. He played the point frequently on the powerplay in the OHL and was highly successful in that role.
Foerster, overall, has solid offensive instincts. He knows how to create space for himself to get into shooting lanes. He can elude defenders using his high on-ice intelligence and offensive awareness. Foerster is also an above-average passer, making him a continued threat on the powerplay.
Foerster’s Need for Improvement
Foerster’s biggest knock is his skating. Less so his top speed, but more so his acceleration. In the OHL, he can rely heavily on his shot and vision. At the NHL level however, accelerating with the puck is key to a transition game and to creating offense. Supposedly, Foerster has used the downtime caused by COVID-19 to hire a private skating coach, and apparently, his skating has improved. His stride and acceleration need the most work for him to be a contributing NHL player at 5-on-5.
Another potential concern is Foerster’s production at 5-on-5. With 18 powerplay goals, Foerster most certainly can weaponize his cannon of a shot and produce. He also had a fair number of assists on the powerplay, exercising his excellent passing skills to set-up plays from the left side of the ice. That being said, there is always concern about players in the CHL who produce at such a high rate on the powerplay, but equally or less so at 5-on-5. The question going forward for Foerster is whether or not he can increase that production next season in the OHL, where he will most certainly return.
Projection and Upside
The Flyers have shown in two consecutive drafts that they aren’t afraid to take players with skating concerns. Bobby Brink, the Flyers’ second-round selection last season, fell to the second round due to both his size and backward skating stride. While Foerster has NHL size and his decent overall strength for his age, he has similar concerns regarding his stride and acceleration. The Flyers clearly love his combination of shot and his vision. They see a player who can perhaps contribute at both 5-on-5 and on the powerplay.
Overall, Forester has some raw tools but will definitely need to finish out his career in the OHL by spending at least one season in the AHL before making an NHL roster. If he can improve his skating, Foerster projects as a second-line, secondary scoring winger who can excel on the powerplay.