In a draft class that is filled with high-end prospects coming out of the OHL, some incredibly talented young players are starting to get lost in the shuffle. Tyson Foerster is one of them.
The Barrie Colts forward is coming off of a breakout season in which he score 36 goals in 62 games - good enough for fifth among draft eligible OHLers - and still, he is finding himself ranked outside of the first round by many scouts. He’s likely to fall outside of the top-20 and if he does, someone is going to luck into a very high-end offensive prospect.
The weaknesses in his game are ones that can be fixed with the right coaching and development. On the flip side, his strengths - a naturally strong shot release and hockey IQ - are things that can’t be taught.
Foerster is seen by some as a high-floor prospect, a guy that will at the very least carve out a good NHL career as a bottom-6 winger. What is overlooked by some, is his potential to be a home run at the end of the first round. He’s not Steven Stamkos - though there are a lot of similarities in his game - and as a late bloomer, he’s Foerster has the ability to be an elite goal scorer at the next level.
The first thing you notice when watching Foester play is his shot. He’s got an absolute cannon.
Evan Vierling: Backhand sauce— Brandon Holmes (@BHolmes_Hockey) April 7, 2020
Tyson Foerster: One-time rocket to the top corner
Colts have seen an awful lot of that this season, those two have been a natural fit ever since Vierling was acquired from Flint midseason #2020NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/xMbK1sVFLb
He scored a lot of his goals this season from the top of the left circle - a la Alexander Ovechkin. His shot from that spot is one of the best in all of junior hockey. It’s heavy, quick and one that will definitely translate to the NHL.
While his shot is the biggest strength, Foerster’s playmaking shouldn't be overlooked. He is great at anticipating the play and is able to create scoring chances for both himself and his teammates. Foerster is a very smart player with high-end “hockey instincts”. He is a very good positional forward in all three zones that has a big impact on his team’s defense thanks to an elite ability to read the play as it unfolds.
While many will rate his skating as a “weakness”, that comes from a lack of explosive acceleration. Foerster’s actually has an above average top speed and is very strong on his skates. Two attributes that allow him to be an effective forechecker.
Foerster isn’t the fastest skater in the world and some will argue that he lacks the foot speed to create scoring chances in the NHL. While explosiveness is a weakness, Foerster is very strong on his skates and has a stride that allows for the potential to grow his acceleration. If he is able to put in some work with a good skating coach and add a half step, Foerster has the tools to turn into a very good skater in the NHL.
Physical maturity might be seen as a weakness to some as well. He is not the most athletically gifted player on the ice but that can be said for a lot of junior kids who are trying to grow into their bodies. Foerster is barely 18 so that is something that should come over the next couple of years. He’s the kind of player that in the past might have seen his draft stock dip - in a way it shouldn’t - thanks to the physical testing at the combine.
After only putting up 23 points as a rookie in Barrie, Foerster broke out in a big way this year. He has the potential to be near the top of the OHL’s scoring race next season.
He is a high volume shooter. Foerster took 225 shots - or 3.62 shots per game. To put that in context, that was 96 shots more than his closest teammate in Barrie.
Tyson Foerster trying to take over the Ovi spot pic.twitter.com/qCp3SOQFaq— Prashanth Iyer (@iyer_prashanth) July 6, 2020
What Others are Saying
“His goal-scoring ability stood out at the start of the season and his play continued to develop during the second half and he finished with 80 points (36 goals, 44 assists) in 62 games. The 6-1, 194-pound right-hand shot is a gifted offensive player who consistently puts himself in the right areas of the ice to get into scoring areas and make plays through traffic.” - Mike Morreale, NHL dot com
“Foerster can finish on scoring chances, which have been clear. He has a steady release on his shot. What has also made him so successful when it comes to scoring is his ability to move undetected by opposing players and find open spots because Tyson is always moving his legs. Foerster is also an excellent passer, which results not only in team scoring chances but is a skill he utilizes with his high hockey IQ to help the team with zone exits.” –Ryan Noble/Very Barrie Colts
“There are a couple things that really stand out with Foerster. The first is his cannon of a shot. He loves to set up at the dot near the half wall and like Ovechkin/Stamkos, he can unleash a powerful one timer or a quick snap shot that beats goaltenders clean. And he really moves well without the puck, jumping into gaps and anticipating the play very well. The puck seems to find him in the offensive zone and he doesn’t waste time getting the puck off his stick. The second thing is his play away from the puck. He is a very intelligent two-way player who gets his stick in passing lanes, wins battles along the boards, and is active on the forecheck forcing turnovers.” - Brock Otten, OHL Prospects
Foerster is a kid that is going to need some very specific development - acceleration being the biggest - but in the right situation and with the right coaching, it might not take that long for him to make his pro debut. Two more seasons dominating junior followed by a jump directly to the NHL.
Where he’ll be Drafted
Though he is mostly ranked in the 25-45 range, Foerster is the type of player that will likely be drafted higher than many expect. Much like with the selections Jake DeBrusk or Liam Foudy, a team could catch a lot of ire when they “reach” for Foerster, only to be proven to have made the right selection a few years down the road.
If he falls to the Avalanche, Joe Sakic will likely think long and hard about making him the team’s first selection.