Jean Luc-Foudy was perhaps one of the most talked about prospects from the 2020 class for the best part of two seasons. He was also the most divisive. Scouts either loved him or just didn’t see much upside at all.
Foudy was my 67th ranked prospect for 2020 and when the Avalanche selected him with the 75th overall pick, it honestly sat well with me. Late second round to mid-third was my expected range for Foudy. He’s a player that boasts huge potential but also carries somewhat a “Boom or Bust” label if you ask some people.
Without Bias, Foudy doesn’t get the kudos he deserves for what he does really well. Rather the common narrative and stigma around him are what he doesn’t do as well. Sure his game needs some tidying up and maturation, but he’s 18 and a fricken prospect, isn’t that to be expected?
Where The Divisiveness Is Bred From
No doubt on paper you can see where some of the worries may lie with Foudy. He regressed from his rookie 2018/19 OHL season point per game average and saw a largely decreased role after Christmas. He even lost nearly a minute off his ice time this season too, but why?
Foudy did not benefit this season from the unexpected rise of the 2019/20 Spitfires. This Winsdor team wasn’t meant to be as good as they turned out to be, period. They were one of the youngest teams in the league and performed way above expectations. At one point (January 10th), they even sat atop the Western Conference standings. A far cry from dwelling in the cellar like the two previous seasons.
Foudy had success on the wing of top line for the best part of three months, only to find himself playing middle-six minutes post-Christmas. A bad team loss to Saginaw on the 28th of December was the start of it all. Foudy then struggled with developing chemistry. He was rotating through several linemates game-to-game. So much so that he had a drop in production to the tone of 30 percent. He even suffered pointless stretches as much as eight games.
Before Christmas – 33 Games – .81 points per game
After Christmas – 26 Games – .57 points per game
Big difference as you can see. This was a team pushing hard for playoff success. Foudy just got lost in the shuffle. Therefore, I don’t buy into the production issues too much at all. Always more to every story as they say, and context is always relevant.
All of this said, what does Foudy bring to the table? And what are some of the risks involved with him? Well, let’s dig in.
This Spitfire Has Jets, Literally
Jean-Luc can skate. Like I mean, he can really skate. We’re talking about possibly a top-three skater in the whole of the Canadian Hockey League. His skating is the basis on which his game is built.
Foudy displays a savage downhill style that pushes defenders back, exploiting them at any chance he gets. No other skater in this 2020 class has the ability to go back and retrieve pucks from his own zone and create offense that quickly.
Here are some very typical Foudy shifts.
He’s not shy to get back and support his defense in order to find an outlet. He escapes up ice and creates entries with grace and flair. The ability to get back and lend support to his defenseman is an underrated asset to his game. Something not mentioned in a positive tone enough.
It’s not only his proficiency to gain the zone by foot from transition that he excels in. Foudy is also one of the best exponents of cutting to the net off of transition play amongst his peers.
Foudy gets a swag of good chances in the slot areas due to his ability to find lanes to cut into. He drives to the net hard and pops up in dangerous areas often. Something that bodes very well as a translatable skill at NHL level. As we can see from his shot map below, it’s quality chances galore.
Zones 1 and 2 are where you want to make a living. Foudy could be asked to pay rent to the slot at this point of his career. He just knows where to be and as you can see by the percentages, more often than not gets a shot on the net with good success.
Here are just some of those good shots.
The style in which Foudy plays can lead to some suspicious shot choices at times. He does prefer to play the perimeter which can lead to what appears to be neutral or negative plays. By that I mean low-quality shots.
A contributing factor to this is lack of quality around him. Foudy didn’t get the pick of the bunch on what was a pretty offensively starved team. He had to take the onus upon himself to score more so than most. It’s my belief that with better quality line-mates with speed, Foudy would have more creativity in which to work with.
Jean-Luc Foudy also is one of the best passers in terms of being able to filter pucks through into the slot and dangerous areas. There are very few who are willing to show such selflessness and desire to drive the puck into such regions.
These are the good examples.
If there is a knock on Foudy, it’s the fact that he can almost be too robotic in terms of making these passes. It leads him to be prone to passing up on excellent shooting chances.
Whether this is a lack of shooting confidence or simply trying to over-create, I’m not sure. But it’s something I want cut out of his game moving forward. Shoot the puck!
There is no denying that Jean-Luc Foudy is a smart, calculated offensive weapon. He moves the puck just about better then anyone up ice and his playmaking ability is coming together very nicely. I like his reads in all three zones and I like the fact for the most part he is a selfless player.
One area of concern for me is that Foudy can often just try too much. Whether it be a by-product of what’s around him or simply a lack of IQ, is still yet to be determined.
As the video shows, he relies on his skating and elusiveness to get him out of trouble. Instead, it can land him in it. I’m excited to see what he can do playing with player’s who can match his speed and mindset. I firmly believe it’s not a huge blip in terms of him not being smart enough to eradicate this from this game. He simply needs more like players to play with.
Jean-Luc Foudy has the makings of being a hell of a hockey player. He skates like a pro and makes passes like one too. He has a fair bit of strength to add to his 6’0’/175-pound frame. That added muscle should aid in him developing a better shot and the gumption to engage physically, as he doesn’t quite have his sanga to his bread as yet.
Defensively he has some positioning issues, but that will crinkle out. But he has shown an increase in his acumen and willingness to participate in a defensive cycle.
There are some decision-making issues on offense that need resolving as mentioned above. However, I am intrigued to see what he’s going to be when playing with quicker and more offensive-minded players. I’m of the opinion that he’ll figure it all out.
He’s a good prospect to swing on, but he will take some time. The best bet is to develop him as winger who can vibe playing around high-quality players who have a scorer’s touch, making the best use of that speed and passing ability will be pivotal.