Carolina Hurricanes: What to Expect From Warren Foegele

RALEIGH, NC - APRIL 15: Warren Foegele #13 of the Carolina Hurricanes controls the puck near the blue line against of the Washington Capitals in Game Three of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 15, 2019 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NC - APRIL 15: Warren Foegele #13 of the Carolina Hurricanes controls the puck near the blue line against of the Washington Capitals in Game Three of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 15, 2019 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images) /

After moderate success in his rookie season with the Carolina Hurricanes, Warren Foegele exploded onto the scene in the playoffs.  What can we expect from the swift winger in 2019-20?

Growth spurts can hit unexpectedly.  That’s the position that Carolina Hurricanes winger Warren Foegele found himself in, growing 6 inches in the year leading up to the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and working to tailor his game to suit his larger frame.

After 3 increasingly productive seasons at St. Andrew’s College, the Carolina Hurricanes grabbed Foegele in the 3rd round (67th overall) of that 2014 draft.  He moved on to the University of New Hampshire and then 2 solid seasons in the OHL before making his professional debut with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers in 2017.

He acquitted himself well in his first year as a pro, collecting 28 goals and 18 assists in 73 games and being named to the AHL All-Star Game.  A spring call-up saw Foegele make his NHL debut, recording 2 goals and an assist in 3 games with the Hurricanes.  It seems safe to say that Foegele did well in adjusting his game.

Things continued to progress for Foegele, making the Hurricanes out of training camp while putting up 3 goals and 2 assists in the team’s first 7 games.  Unfortunately, the young winger spiraled into a  27 game goalless drought, a stretch that saw him tally a lone assist.

While this streak was trying, it showed Foegele’s character.  He continued to contribute by being an effective penalty killer, bringing physicality and energy to every shift, and forechecking like a man possessed.  The offensive well was dry but Brind’Amour appreciated the effort and allowed Foegele to play his way through it.

Foegele’s offense began to heat up down the stretch.  With the Hurricanes trying to secure a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the winger netted 3 goals in the final 6 games, including this absolute beauty against the Washington Capitals:

While Foegele’s hard work made a positive impression during the regular season, the playoffs saw his game go to another level at a time when the Hurricanes needed it most.  The third game of the opening round, the first NHL playoff game in Raleigh since 2009, found the Hurricanes trailing the defending champion Washington Capitals 2 games to none.

Game 3 proved to be a war of attrition with rookie sensation Andrei Svechnikov and physical winger Micheal Ferland injured early on.  This opened the door for Foegele to see an increase in ice time and he made the most of it with relentless forechecking and an offensive touch.  The Hurricanes rolled to a 5-0 victory with Foegele playing a huge role (2G, 1A, 3 hits, 14:37 TOI).

Foegele continued his torrid play in Game 4, setting a new franchise record when he opened the scoring 17 seconds into the first period.  This set the tone for the Hurricanes, leading to a 2-1 victory and tying the series at 2 games apiece before eventually winning a double-overtime Game 7 thriller.

While maintaining his physical play in the remaining 8 playoff games, Foegele only posted 1 goal and 2 assists in that span as the Hurricanes were ultimately swept in the Eastern Conference Finals.  Foegele finished the 2019 playoffs fifth in team scoring with 5 goals and 4 assists, tying Erik Cole for the most playoff points by a Carolina Hurricanes rookie (albeit in 8 fewer games).

Now the Carolina Hurricanes are poised to enter a new season with arguably the best forward depth we’ve seen since the 2006 Stanley Cup team.  Notably gone are lineup regular Ferland (71 GP) and semi-regular Greg McKegg (41 GP), white the new additions are highlighted by two speedy, offensive-minded players in Erik Haula and Ryan Dzingel.

It’s also anticipated that talented Czech Martin Necas makes the team out of camp, a possibility that adds even more speed and talent on the front end.  The biggest unknown at this time is the future of Hurricanes captain Justin Williams.

This welcome depth means that Foegele likely slots into the bottom-6, barring training camp surprises or injuries.  With coach Rod Brind’Amour‘s penchant for rolling 4 lines (and the talent to assemble 4 very effective ones), Foegele will get looks and his heavy play will be counted on with Ferland gone.

If he can build on his postseason success, it becomes hard to imagine that Foegele doesn’t surpass his rookie numbers.  Regardless of where he plays, he’ll be joined by talented linemates and the Hurricanes have enough speed to ensure that whoever he plays with can keep pace with him on the forecheck.

Now, all of that is standard stuff, I know.  To balance that out, I’m going to offer an idea that will either be met with mild interest or calls to have me burned at the stake:

Give Warren Foegele some power-play ice time.

Before you grab your torches and pitchforks, hear me out.  It’s no secret that the Hurricanes were hot garbage on the man advantage last year, finishing 20th in the league with a conversion rate of 17.8%, almost a full 2% below the league average.

Caniacs from all over offered sacrifices to the hockey gods who, in turn, ignored the pleas of our beleaguered brethren and sistren.  One issue was the inability of the Hurricanes to keep a body planted in front of the opposing goalie.  Sure, guys would go there initially, but they either abandoned their post or simply failed to effectively screen the keeper.

Foegele has size and hands so why not give him of a shot?  The Hurricanes have the skilled playmakers and shooters to resuscitate the nearly dead power play, give Foegele a chance to plant his 6’2″ frame in front of the goalie and clean up the garbage.

Okay, time to step off that soapbox and get back to the task at hand.

While I don’t foresee Foegele’s ice time changing drastically, the increased depth leaves less room for error.  Foegele’s work ethic won him favor with Brind’Amour last season and kept him in the lineup for all but 5 games and maintaining that intensity will be paramount for him this season.

His prowess on the penalty kill also works in his benefit, his 1:18 average shorthanded ice time placing him 4th among Hurricanes forwards behind Brock McGinn, Jordan Staal, and Jordan Martinook.

Warren Foegele has shown the ability to adapt in the past and I believe that he can continue to grow.  The 2019-20 season could very well serve as a litmus test in determining what his NHL ceiling is.  If he can smooth out the offensive inconsistency that showed up during the regular season and playoffs, Foegele should easily best last year’s 10 goals.

I’ll temper my expectations and say he’ll be good for 15.  If he sees more than the average of 6 seconds per game on the man advantage he got last year, maybe that puts him into the 15-20 goal range.  The flip side is that spending 10% of his ice time killing penalties will likely hinder his overall offensive production.

Since turning pro, Foegele’s assist count has been lower than his goal totals.  How he fares this season will depend on where he plays and with whom.  Again, I expect he’ll surpass last season’s totals, though it could fluctuate greatly.  For sanity’s sake, I think he’ll come in at 15, a nice number that I’m apparently fond of.

Overall, Foegele should continue his physical, two-way play while also killing penalties and chipping in some timely offense.

Now is the time for the Carolina Hurricanes to focus on re-signing veteran captain Justin Williams.. light. Related Story

What say you, Canes fans?  How do you think things go for Warren Foegele this season?