From now until the beginning of training camp, Boston Hockey Now is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2022-23 Boston Bruins. Today’s player: Nick Foligno.
Social Media handles: Twitter (@NickFoligno)
What Happened Last Year: Foligno, 34, has watched his numbers decline for each of the last four seasons and that continued in his first season in Boston as he posted two goals and 13 points in 64 games while battling back issues. He was mostly saddled on the fourth line, which led to some level of disagreement with then head coach Bruce Cassidy, and generally didn’t have a major impact on the team after being brought in as a veteran power forward-type.
Part of the issue clearly is that Foligno has to work harder to keep up with the NHL pace as he advances into middle age, but part of it was also that he wasn’t nearly enough of a net-front presence as advertised coming to Boston. Foligno was much more effective down the stretch and during the playoffs when he found consistent line chemistry with Tomas Nosek and Curtis Lazar as all three forwards really bought into playing energy line roles for the Boston Bruins.
But let’s be honest here, Foligno was not brought into Boston on a contract paying him $3.8 million per season to scrape by as a fourth line forward seemingly incapable of bringing much offense or impact to the table. Any way you look at it, Foligno has to be looked at as a disappointment heading into a year with plenty of questions as to what he’s going to bring to the table for Boston.
Time is a flat circle. pic.twitter.com/zjU4MTccp4
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) September 1, 2022
Questions To Be Answered This Season: It’s a blunt question, of course, but Foligno has to prove that he’s got something meaningful left in the tank. There’s no longer a coach around that the veteran forward clearly had some friction with, and he enters a new season fully healthy and with a chance to settle into a bottom-6 role with the Black and Gold.
But we’re talking about a longtime effective, physical NHL player and former Columbus captain that’s seen his play in decline over the last few seasons, and one who now has back issues that have cropped up in the last couple of seasons. The Boston Bruins chose not to try and go the buyout route with Foligno, so he’ll have a fair chance to carve out a role for himself at NHL training camp headed into this coming season. Will it end with Foligno buried in the AHL like Chris Wagner, or simply playing out the season as a 13th forward on a team that could sorely use a physical, grinding winger if the 34-year-old is up to the task.
In Their Words: “Our fourth line, which I see Foligno being a leader of, if he’s not on the third line, being an important momentum line. Getting us right back into the other team’s end and gaining momentum for the other lines and wearing teams down so we can change on the fly and throw out whoever Pasta’s playing with to get us a goal.” –Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery to the Boston Globe while discussing Foligno’s envisioned role headed into next season.
Overall Outlook: Nick Foligno is among a number of Boston Bruins players likely entering the final year in Boston, and it’s up to the 34-year-old how his stint with the Black and Gold will be viewed once it’s all said and done. His first season in Boston wasn’t very good for a number of reasons, but one of them seems to be disagreement about his role with the team.
There shouldn’t be a repeat of that this season with a very clearly defined role for Foligno headed into the season, and a chance for him to bring toughness, physicality, grit and leadership to the table for a bottom-6 group that could definitely use all of those things. Foligno certainly could put up better numbers than last season, even on the fourth line, and should be motivated to be more of an impact guy given his resume prior to coming to Boston.
For a team that’s looking at this season as their “Last Dance” so to speak with Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci on one-year deals, Foligno very much fits into that mindset as well as he’s looking at one of his last chances at Stanley Cup glory as well.