Tyson Foerster says he models his game after Washington Capitals sniper T.J. Oshie and that must bring smiles to the faces of the Flyers front office.
It’s no secret the Flyers could use a little help in the scoring department, so it was no surprise when they selected the offense-minded Tyson Foerster with the 23rd overall pick in the first round of Tuesday night’s NHL Entry Draft.
Oshie not only scores but plays well on the defensive side of the puck. On top of that, Foerster was coached the past two seasons by the late Dale Hawerchuk, a former Flyer, who was known for playing a complete game.
Foerster, an 18-year-old center/right wing who played for the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League the past two seasons, led the OHL in power-play goals last season with 18.
The Flyers were willing to take a chance on Foerster, even though several NHL scouts said his unorthodox skating style probably would have dropped him out of the first round on some projection lists.
The 6-foot-2, 194-pound Foerster has a knack for the net and the Flyers are looking for players like that. The Flyers’ leading goal scorer this past season was Travis Konecny with 24.
“Tyson certainly fits the bill,’’ general manager Chuck Fletcher said during a Webex call after the first round ended. “He’s got a lethal one-timer. He sets up on the left side and he’s got a big right shot. He hammers it, gets a lot on it, he overpowers goaltenders.
“He also has quick hands, he can make plays around the net. I think he sees the ice really well. He’s a pretty complete offensive player. In his words, I think he would tell you he has a shoot-first mentality, which certainly didn’t upset me. But it does take time. He has a pretty good all-around skill set. For that time of the draft, we were pretty pleased to select him.’’
This draft was held remotely due to the pandemic, so Foerster only got to celebrate with his family back in Canada. Still, the excitement was evident.
“I was relieved to finally hear my name called,’’ he said. “It’s obviously a dream come true. I had a couple talks with the Flyers and they were really good. I felt good about it. I was just waiting for them to pick really.’’
As for his skating, Foerster admitted it’s something he’s been working on.
“Actually I’ve working on it a lot for the last six months,’’ he said. “I feel it’s improved a lot. I feel like I’m that much closer to the next level and playing with the Flyers.’’
Right after that, Foerster let it be known he tries to emulate Oshie, one of the key figures in the Caps’ 2018 Stanley Cup championship.
“I feel like I play a similar game to T.J. Oshie,’’ the Alliston, Ontario native said. “I feel like I can be out there in any situation and score some goals, too. So he’s a good player I can compare myself to.’’
Foerster looks up to Oshie because he’s more than one-dimensional.
“I like that he’s a complete player,’’ Foerster said. “He does it everywhere – penalty kill, power play. I try to model my game after him and do the same stuff he does. He’s had a hell of a career and I want to do the same.’’
According to Eliteprospects.com, Foerster is “most comfortable setting up shop at the top of the face-off circle, taking cross-ice feeds and one-timing them on net with power. He sets up his feeds really well, scanning the ice for where the target will be, looking for the pass and threatening to shoot. He’s got one of the best shots in the draft, sees the ice well and possesses plus-defensive instincts.’’
Assistant general manager Brent Flahr did most of the scouting on Foerster. He liked what he saw early on. Most 18-year-olds are “projects’’ but Foerster has the potential to shrink the timeline to the NHL.
“We had a few guys (on the list) but we decided to go with the goal scorer,’’ Flahr said. “He’s a guy we followed closely during the pandemic. We spoke to his skating coach, strength and conditioning coach and we believe he’s made big strides. The time off he’s used wisely.
“His instincts inside the offensive zone should be a great addition to the Flyers organization.’’