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2018-19 Review: Oh captain, my captain, Nick Foligno

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It was a heck of a season for Nick Foligno, both on the ice and off of it for the Blue Jackets captain.

Boston Bruins v Columbus Blue Jackets - Game Six Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Nick Foligno has been the brunt of my criticism at times. In part, because those guys that bear the burden of the ‘C’, the leadership guys, take the criticism when things go bad, the praise when things are great. But make no mistake, Foligno is a no-nonsense guy on the ice and I never have had to question his heart and desire. That rose to new heights this past season.

Nick Foligno 2018-19 Stats

Games played: 73
Goals: 17
Assists: 18
Points: 35
Time on ice: 17:43
Penalty Minutes: 44
Corsi For (even strength): 47.9%

2018-19 Playoff Stats

Games played: 10
Goals: 1
Assists: 2
Points: 3
Time on ice: 18:36
Penalty Minutes: 4
Corsi For (even strength): 45.2%

Nick Folignos’ Contract Status

2022/UFA Base Salary CAP Hit No Trade Clause
2022/UFA Base Salary CAP Hit No Trade Clause
2019/20 $5,500,000 $5,500,000 No Movement Clause
2020/21 $5,500,000 $5,500,000 No Movement Clause
2021/22 UFA

High Point

Foligno helped captain the Blue Jackets to the second-round of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in franchise history in 2018-19. Foligno’s best scoring game came in a three-point effort (two goals, one assist) Oct. 9 against the Avalanche. He also had a multi-goal affair against the Rangers Jan. 13. Foligno’s goal in Game 1, period two, of the Quarterfinals against the Lightning also kickstarted the 3-0 rally and ultimately, the 4-3 comeback victory en route to the 4-0 sweep.

Low Point

As mentioned at the top, I have been critical of Foligno, but I have also altered my opinion, er criticisms (you know, all the canned postgame responses) of Foligno. His presence in the lineup cannot be understated. No, he’s not the 73 point scorer that he showed to be in 2014-15, and this season was his second with just over 30 points, and two years removed from the 51 he had in 2016-17.

Foligno missed time on separate occasions this season due to the health of his kids. His daughter has had her well-chronicled battles with a congenital heart defect and resulting surgeries, and his son was in the hospital due to a bout with pneumonia and a collapsed lung.

Back to the high point

Fortunately, the prognosis for both turned more positive, allowing for Foligno to return to the team. Upon his March return, right after the Blue Jackets went through a debilitating Western Canadian-swing, Columbus, with Foligno in tow, surged to a 6-1 mark to close out the regular season. Without Foligno, the Jackets went 4-4-1. While that’s a small sample size, one or two games without your captain can prove a bigger hole to fill. Let alone nine.

I do think his return, mixed with the teams’ winning ways down the stretch after that Canadian swing, was more than just a coincidence.


The below representation from Hockey Viz shows the breakdown of those teammates playing with and without Foligno, and Foligno with and without those mates. It’s not a sexy looking trend if you’re hoping to see Foligno’s impact on his linemates, but Pale Dragon seemed optimistic about him matching up on the ice defensively with Alexander Wennberg.

Hockey Viz

While the numbers don’t lie, we’re not really surprised if Foligno’s best on-ice merits are the intangibles he provides, more so than a specified number of goals or points. Sure, you can judge the player by their production, but we know by now what kind of a player Foligno is. He might not score the 31 goals and 73 points again, but we see the impact he brings to the team when he’s out there on the ice, such as his veteran leadership and presence, physicality and grit.

In January’s article, The Blue Jackets Are Fun Again, I referenced that Foligno snarl, such as in his return from his first prolonged absence Jan. 10 against the Predators.

Brian Hedger of The Columbus Dispatch also summed up the captain’s leadership qualities to me:

“Even with all the stuff he had to deal with this season, two kids fighting for their lives basically, the guy scored 17 goals, provided the same leadership and motivation as usual and in the playoffs, he just shifts to center after playing wing all season ... for the good of the team. Playing pretty well there too.”

Poll

How would you rate Nick Foligno’s 2018-19 season?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    A
    (20 votes)
  • 54%
    B
    (62 votes)
  • 21%
    C
    (25 votes)
  • 6%
    D
    (7 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (0 votes)
114 votes total Vote Now