What is His Kryptonite?
The common knock on Foerster is his skating ability. Right out in front, this is one of the factors that have Perreault ranked above him on most draft boards. Depending on who is discussing Foerster, the comments range from “adequate” to being a straight-up liability. I’ll confess this confuses me in a few ways.
"His first few steps aren’t terrific and he isn’t much of a factor carrying the puck in transition, meaning that he generally needs someone else to gain the offensive zone for him right now. –Brock Otten"
Firstly, skating should be a somewhat correctable skillset with the right coaching. Foerster does lack rapid acceleration from his first step. There’s simply no denying this. However, acceleration can often be remedied by 1) acceleration drills (obvious but hey, here we are), and 2) increasing lower body strength and power. Certainly, at this stage of his career, it’s highly unlikely that Foerster will ever be confused with Andrew Cogliano, however, I find it equally unlikely that the player will not get stronger than he is now. That he won’t, partake in speed or acceleration skating drills.
Let’s put it out here right now, Foerster’s top-end speed is actually quite good and leans towards being above average. He’s not exactly a turtle wading through peanut butter out there. He is also quite strong on his skates and is difficult for his peers to knockdown. His edgework and agility really leave nothing to be desired.
This shows us that he has a toolset from which to develop more explosive first-step acceleration, as both maximum speed and the ability to stay strong through checks present aspects of lower body strength. Different strength profiles than acceleration, but similar enough to suggest that there is a foundation for the building they would be constructing.
The long and short of it is that Foerster is not quite physically developed as others in his draft class may be. This gives the Anaheim Ducks a very exciting “in” should they take a chance on the big shooting player. With a little patience and a nudge in the right direction, the Anaheim Ducks could easily find themselves with a player who’s blooms late in his physicality yet already owns a devastating weapon in his shot. The upside to that is quite frankly ridiculous.
A further factor that could weigh into the Ducks decision making is their current stock of players. Many of the Ducks players are excellent at moving the puck in transition, yet lack teeth to their bites on the offensive end. Take a Troy Terry for example, who ranked in the top-20 of all NHL forwards at transitioning the puck into the offensive zone, yet has a pretty impotent shot with which to finish that excellent work.
Terry is likely to make his living in the bottom-6 forward group from now on. But now imagine Terry carrying the puck into the offensive zone as he does. He then makes a play (which is his strong suit comparative to his own shot) to get the puck to the trailing skater who owns a massive one-timer threat and who can score nearly at will. That third line of good work with little reward now suddenly becomes a big problem for opposition defenses.
At some stage, the Anaheim Ducks will need to put together a “team” in the truest sense of the word. While selecting the best player available is certainly an option, they should also consider how the jigsaw pieces will fit together. Foerster’s downside, even should he not improve upon it, fits within the Ducks framework as a potential asset.
Who Said What Now?
Firstly, let’s have a look at what those in the know have to say about all the warm, gooey, good stuff…
"“The first thing that sticks out about Foerster is his cannon of a shot. It resembles a little bit of Alex Ovechkin when you watch him. He scored quite a few of his goals from the left circle. By the time the puck was in the net, the goalie barely moved. It’s lethal. He can unleash his shot from any area of the ice and there’s a chance it will go in. While his shot is great, don’t discount his passing. He’s hockey sense allows him to be creative and can find the right play. Offensively there’s hard to find fault in his game.” –Mark Scheig"
"“There are a couple of 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"
Now for those addressing the elephant in the room. His skating…
"“Foerster has been rising my personal OHL rankings with each viewing. While the skating is still fairly raw, it’s not really that bad and can be worked on. I’ve seen some flashes of good transition speed from Foerster, though he struggles at beating defenders one on one in pure foot races. Foerster’s shot is the skill that stands out the most for me and behind Perfetti, he has one of the better shots in the OHL for this draft class. While you can never truly predict a player’s growth potential, Foerster seems to me to be one of those cases where, with the proper developmental system, he could outperform his drafted position.” –Dylan Galloway"
"“Everyone says that he can’t skate well enough but he gets there. Everyone said he’d drop off after Suzuki left but he keeps scoring. Everyone said he was a borderline selection for the Top Prospects game so he went and got the MVP. Kid is a player.” –Mark Seidel"