Can the Carolina Hurricanes expect an encore performance from Foegele?
After a strong showing last postseason, what can we expect to see from Carolina Hurricanes’ forward Warren Foegele this year?
When the puck dropped for game one of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last year it appeared as if Warren Foegele was a completely different player for the Carolina Hurricanes. Now, with another year of experience under his belt, what can with expect to see from his in his encore performance?
In his rookie year, he finished the season with 15 points (10 goals and 5 assists), in 77 games, production equivalent to what you’d typically expect from a fourth-line player. Once the playoffs began he dialed it up several notches. Almost equaling his point total from the regular season in just 14 games, his nine points came as a big surprise to some.
Of those nine points, six came in the Hurricanes’ first-round matchup against the Washington Capitals. With four goals and two assists, he was tied in points with several NHL stars including the likes of Auston Matthews, David Pastrnak, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Tyler Seguin heading into the Conference Semi-Finals.
Although his offensive production saw a dip, with only three points in the remaining eight games, his presence was still felt all over the ice. With 31 hits and 11 blocks, he was able to continue to contribute in other ways. This physical edge and strong defensive play were key in helping Carolina make it all the way to the Conference Finals.
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When you look at his history it is clear that this increase in the level of play wasn’t a fluke. Going back to his final year of Junior Hockey in 2016-17 he was a force for the Erie Otters. Earning playoff MVP honors, his 26 points (13 goals and 13 assists) was more than enough to help Erie capture an OHL Championship. The year before, he was also a point per game player with Kingston in the playoffs.
Back to last spring, clearly producing well above what was expected out of him, he proved that contributions can come from anyone and everyone in the postseason. As you look at his playoff numbers round by round, his play against the Capitals has to have you excited for the type of player he has the potential to be when he is engaged in all aspects of the game.
As mentioned before, his sound defensive played a huge part in helping the Canes go as far as they did, but the grittiness of his game is what stood out the most.
Just taking a quick glance, it appears as if the more physical he is the more ice time Rod Brind’amour gives him. In the Washington series, he played a career-high 23:09 in a game where he had 5 hits. On the flip side, in a game where he only had one, he played just 8:34. There also seems to be an increase in offensive production in the games where he registers at least two or more hits.
While it isn’t going to be possible for him to play at that level/intensity all the time, I think it is a good indicator of what to expect from him again. If he is engaged physically he’ll be an integral piece in shaping the outcome of a game and series but if he is not, it’ll be easier for opposing teams.
If we do end up having to play Washington yet again at some point, I am expecting another dominating performance from Warren. In fact, including both regular season and playoffs, 11 of Foegele’s 57 career points have come against the Caps. That’s 20%.
Like last year, as the rounds go on I do expect his offensive production will see another decline. This doesn’t have anything to do with Foegele or the way he plays, it is just the nature of the postseason, teams tighten up defensively and goals are harder and harder to come by.
Confirmed to be facing the New York Rangers in the play in rounds, I think he’ll yet again have a strong start to the playoffs. With five points in eight career games against New York, he has proven to be able to produce against the Blue Shirts.
With the Hurricanes having a bit more depth throughout their line up than New York I think that should the series go the full five games, three points (two goals and an assist) are reasonable to expect from Foegele. To go along with that, I think we’ll see six shots, seven hits and he’ll finish the series plus two.
As for the rest of the postseason, it is all just a matter of how far the Canes go and who their opponents are. If I had to give an estimate, however, it is fair to expect him to produce at .5 points per game, as that what he’s done at both the NHL and AHL level continuously.
Question for CC readers: Are you excited to see what Warren Foegele does in his playoff encore?