By: Zach Carlone | Follow me on Twitter! @zcarlone21
The Bruins flurry of free-agent signings comes with a ton of excitement along with better support for a finely-tuned roster with eyes set on a Stanley Cup championship this upcoming season. The Bruins signed three forwards, one defenseman, and one goalie from free agency, along with re-signing winger Taylor Hall and defenseman Brandon Carlo. After all of the dust clears from what was a busy first few days of free agency, most teams seem set with their opening night rosters heading into the season. For now, we can speculate and amp ourselves up over how fulfilling some of the Bruins free agent signings were, especially the one signing of former Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno.
Last season, the Buffalo, NY native scored seven goals and got 16 points in 42 games with the Blue Jackets before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs prior to the Trade Deadline. In seven games with the Maple Leafs, he collected four assists, and a first-round playoff exit was the only playoff hockey he and the Maple Leafs endured. Overall, Foligno has gotten at least fifteen goals in seven of the fourteen seasons of his career thus far. He’s collected at least 30 points in ten of those fourteen seasons as well, producing an impressive career-high of 73 points in 79 games during the 2014-15 season.
The signing of Foligno has more benefits than issues. The subtle concern I have with Foligno is his age, specifically because of his playing style. Most of the NHL’s gifted, talented, and grittiest power forwards from the past ten or so seasons have had their play decline faster than anybody expects. Former Bruin Milan Lucic and his current standing in the league come to mind. Foligno, now 33, hopefully, has more left in the tank before being just another body out on the ice for the Bruins. The team ran into the problem of not getting enough effort and production from the bottom six last season, but this season should be much different.
It’s not like Foligno’s entire game is going to decline, but it’s also pretty obvious he’s going to be done with his career by his upper-30’s. He’s not a flashy star who can play until he’s 40 years old. Foligno brings a lot to the team, but I don’t think Bruins fans should expect the bright spots of Foligno’s game to last forever. After all, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney did only sign him for two years, and I knew he’d be a great player to bring in for the short-term.
Outside of playing on the wrong side of 30, which every NHL player reaches some point in their respective career, Foligno brings experience, determination, and fantastic two-way play to a Bruins bottom-six in desperate need of a new spark. After playing in 957 career regular-season games thus far, Foligno has only played in 55 career playoff games and has no championships to his name. He should be heading to Boston with the hunger of getting into the playoffs, battling to win four seven-game series, and finally hoisting the Stanley Cup.
Foligno brings leadership to a Bruins club that is led by Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and now most likely Brandon Carlo, who donned the ‘A’ on his jersey for portions of last season. The departure of David Krejci leaves a hole in the leadership bubble for this team, and Foligno is destined to enter right away. He was named the captain of the Columbus Blue Jackets in the offseason following the 2014-15 season and held the ‘C’ on his jersey until he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs prior to last season’s NHL Trade Deadline.
It goes unsaid that Foligno is going to be a big part of the team’s leadership group moving forward, as he already got a chance to participate in the Bruins Foundation annual Golf Tournament held in Plymouth, Massachusetts, on September 6th. Foligno’s most rewarding contributions to this Bruins club are going to be through his character, dignity, and leadership on and off the ice. He’s going to play a big role on the ice, potentially even getting some time with the special-teams units, but it’ll be the impact beyond the ice and in the Boston community that Foligno will forever make his mark on Boston.