‘He would get a little cocky' — Foerster's swagger, shot showing early carryover


Frank Carnevale said he wasn't kidding.

Boy, was he not kidding.

As Tyson Foerster whipped a laser past three-time Stanley Cup champion Marc-Andre Fleury, with the pinging sound of the puck ricocheting off the iron and into the back of the net, it was abundantly clear that Carnevale was not kidding.

"I don't think there's a guy on that team right now — I'm thinking about it — that can shoot like him," he said.

Carnevale saw the shot, the swagger and the maturation all come together for Foerster at the junior hockey level. He was the director of player personnel for the Barrie Colts when they selected Foerster in the third round of the 2018 OHL priority selection draft.

In the first round of the 2020 NHL entry draft, the Flyers grabbed Foerster at 23rd overall. And they're now seeing some early promise as the shot-seeking winger gets his feet wet at the NHL level.

With the Flyers missing the playoffs for a third straight year and very much in a rebuild, Foerster has earned the opportunity to show the big club's coaching staff a glimpse of his game. His audition in March hit a new high Thursday night when Foerster forced overtime with an eye-opening goal.

"I just kind of blacked out after," Foerster said Friday with a smile. "We were down 4-3. Just to score that, it felt really good."

He beat Fleury on a perfect shot with 5:44 minutes left in the third period, giving the Flyers the chance to eventually knock off the Wild, 5-4, in a shootout at the Wells Fargo Center.

"The kid, he's just got some personality with the puck and some really great swagger with the puck," Flyers head coach John Tortorella said Friday. "Another really big play for him.

"He's a very astute young man as far as the game's concerned."

Foerster made his NHL debut a little over two weeks ago and went scoreless with a minus-3 mark through his first three games. Since then, he has turned it up a notch on the score sheet, putting up six points (two goals, four assists) and a plus-4 rating over the last four games.

"One thing's for sure is that it takes him a while to get used to the level," Carnevale said in a phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia the day of Foerster's NHL debut. "When he got to the OHL, he was just kind of feeling everything out and then halfway through the year, he just started dominating because of his weight and his shot.

"It looks like that's what he's done in the American League, too. He's gotten to the level and then he's gotten to the top. That's kind of what we saw. ... Just a great shot and competed.

"I think he's at the point where he's got the qualities to be an NHL player, but it's going take him a little bit to get used to it. That's just the way he has done it at every level."

The 6-foot-2, 194-pound, righty-shot winger saw a 57-point jump from Year 1 to Year 2 with the Colts.

"My first year in Barrie, I wasn't supposed to be anything crazy there," Foerster said. "But I started off a bit slow and kind of gained my confidence. And once I get my confidence going, I feel amazing."

The Colts had Foerster in the slot on the power play, but the winger loved to shoot from the circles. So Barrie wisely adjusted.

"We put him, like, where [Alex] Ovechkin was and he was beautiful," Carnevale, who now runs a well-known summer league, said. "Just the one-timer where teams had to kind of stay over to his side. He has definitely got a pro shot."

It's a significant reason why the Flyers drafted Foerster, who had rawness in other areas but the shot was advanced. The organization has desperately needed more pure shooters from the circles, guys that can beat a goalie without help.

Carnevale knows there's a high degree of confidence — even a cockiness — to Foerster. Watch the 21-year-old in practice and you'll see he likes to talk, smile and have fun. Carnevale admitted Foerster will have to balance the brashness with work ethic.

"They've got to get it slapped out of them coming out of the [OHL] where you're playing all the time," Carnevale said. "And he had it. He would get a little cocky. I used to have talks with him, like, 'Shut the f--- up and play.'

"Tortorella's not going to put up with that. I talked to [Foerster] in the summer, too, a little bit and it's just like, 'Son, just play. Use your body, get your shot. Don't worry about scoring goals because they don't come easy. When they start to come, then fine. But if you don't work hard, you're not getting up.'

"In the NHL, he's a top-six player. He's not going to start there, so he's going to have to get that work ethic and compete. And Tortorella will make him do that, right?"

A top prospect playing with an edge and a moxie is not a bad thing. Those characteristics can go a long way in a player thriving under pressure.

Tortorella likes a player with personality. Foerster has opened his eyes in just seven games.

"We're beginning to build a foundation," the head coach said Tuesday about the Flyers' rebuild. "It's really encouraging to me, and I've said it many times, with this kid Tyson. I'm trying to be careful, but each time I watch him, I say, 'Man, there's a guy, there's another piece that maybe falls into place next year for us.'"

The Flyers are planning to soon send Foerster and defensive prospect Egor Zamula back to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley for the Phantoms' playoff push. On Friday, Tortorella said both players will get another game with the Flyers on Saturday against the Red Wings (1 p.m. ET/NBCSP). Then, the Flyers will evaluate when to have them rejoin Lehigh Valley. The Phantoms won't have Foerster or Zamula for their game Saturday, but Sunday could be a possibility.

Has Foerster made the decision tougher?

"No, no," Tortorella said Tuesday. "Because it's too important ... it's such a great process if they do win some rounds down there, for him to go there and go through that. That's very important in his development."

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