Foerster won’t win Calder Trophy but his future is bright

Tyson Foerster

      While the Flyers have never won a Calder Memorial Trophy for NHL rookie of the year, they’ve come close a couple times.

      We mention this because we’re getting close to the end of the current season when awards voters start thinking about worthy candidates.

      The Flyers could have prevailed once or twice in the past but someone always seemed to get in the way.

      Bill Barber finished second to the New York Rangers’ Steve Vickers at the end of the 1972-73 season. Both freshmen scored 30 goals but Barber had 64 points and Vickers only 53. Somehow, Vickers finished with 24.47 percent of the votes to Barber’s 17.58 percent.

      Then came 1986-87, the season goaltender Ron Hextall won the Vezina Trophy and took the Flyers to a seventh game against the Wayne Gretzky/Mark Messier Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Finals.  Yet, when the votes were tabulated, Los Angeles Kings first-year forward Luc Robitaille, who scored 45 goals, had 77.04 percent of the votes and Hextall 70.37 percent.

      It should be noted the Calder voting only includes regular-season play.

      That brings us to the current campaign.

      Although Chicago’s budding superstar Connor Bedard is the prohibitive favorite for the Calder, the Flyers’ Tyson Foerster should be in the mix.

      His 20 goals are just one behind the budding Blackhawk superstar and Foerster has some other rather impressive statistics as well.

      His plus-5 is the highest among the top 8-ranked freshmen on the scoring list. It’s true Bedard is playing for the horrible Blackhawks but a minus-38 is nothing to write home about.

      Ditto defenseman Luke Hughes of the New Jersey Devils. The Jersey boys are hovering around the .500 mark, which makes Hughes’ minus-24 rather puzzling.

      Foerster is one of only two rookies with a shorthanded goal, he has the highest shooting percentage at 13.1 percent, he’s tied for second in power-play goals with four and tied for first in game-winning goals with two (including a game-winner against the first-place Boston Bruins as time was running out).

      It’s been a great season for the 22-year-old Ontario native but it probably won’t be enough to overtake the media darling from Chicago. Foerster’s slow start this season probably didn’t help his cause either.

      Wouldn’t it be ironic if Foerster finished second in the voting and joined Barber and Hextall in the near-miss fraternity? Maybe some things are never meant to be.

      Coach John Tortorella is a tough grader but he gives Foerster high marks. Even when the young player isn’t at his best, he’s all ears to make himself better.

       “Everything I’ve thrown at him he’s handled,” the coach said a while back. “Yeah, this is his first year. The way he carries himself, the way he’s handled all situations he’s been put in, he hasn’t blinked.

      “If we feel we’re hurting him and there are some mistakes in his game or something is going wrong with his confidence, sure we’ll look at that. He hasn’t come close to that. Even when he was struggling scoring (at the season’s outset).”

      Foerster’s dedication to improving is a key.

      “We just needed a few-second talk on how he was handling himself when he wasn’t scoring because he was showing some frustration,” Tortorella recalled. “That’s the only conversation I’ve had with him as far as what it is to be a pro and how to handle these things I’m throwing him into. I don’t have to worry about that with him.”

      One of these years the Flyers are going to have a first-year player who takes home the Calder. But when that’s going to happen is anybody’s guess.

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About Wayne Fish 2452 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.