Name: Tyson Foerster
Team: Barrie Colts (OHL)
Position: Center / Right Wing
Stats: 62 games played, 36 goals, 44 assists, 80 points, 53 PIMs, -17 plus/minus rating
NHL Central Scouting ranking: 21st (North American skaters)
Comparable NHL player: Brock Boeser / James Neal
It’s never easy to add prospects who can do something at an elite level. For Barrie Colts forward Tyson Foerster, his ability to score goals at an elite level will ensure that he draws keen interest from NHL clubs at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
When the Alliston, Ontario native exploded out of the gate to open up the 2019-20 OHL season, picking up 31 points in his first 20 games, it came as quite a surprise. He wasn’t a high pick in his OHL draft year, he had a fairly unremarkable rookie season in the league, and then he wasn’t invited to Hockey Canada’s selection camp for the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. The question arose: is Foerster the real deal?
Fast forward to now and the answer is a fairly widespread “yes.”
Foerster just kept on truckin’ all season long, picking up points and shooting rockets at goalies. He didn’t slow down in spite of the rebuilding Colts trading away older talent such as Ryan Suzuki, Matej Pekar and Jason Willms, which made him the top priority for opposing defenses to contain. The points kept coming. And, perhaps most impressively, Foerster shone bright at the Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, being named the game’s 1st star after potting two goals and an assist.
As already mentioned, his shot is easily his best weapon. Not only does it possess that rare combination of both power and accuracy, he has some options about how to unleash it, as he can find or bore holes from in close or at distance with his wrist shot and teed-up slappers. However, it’s his one-timer that is truly special. He is able to absolutely unload it, hammering pucks past helpless goaltenders, and he does an impressive job of getting those shots away even if the incoming pass is bobbling or not in the perfect position.
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
Don’t be fooled into thinking that Foerster is a one-trick pony, though. His playmaking vision is quite high-end, and he can thread passes that are as accurate as his shot, albeit at a lower success rate overall. Any player who can both score and make plays at a high level is that much harder to defend against, especially when your shot is so good that it always demands the full respect of defending opponents. That being said, he is prone to giving the puck away under pressure a little more often than you’d like to see, which he’ll need to clean up as he develops.
His hockey sense in general is pretty impressive as well, as he displays a solid understanding of how play unfolds and where he needs to be and what he needs to do in order to leave a positive mark for his team. He played center at various points in this season and didn’t get overwhelmed, which isn’t easy to do, though he’ll probably end up as a winger for the vast majority of his NHL career. However, the strengths of his hockey sense apply more to the offensive zone than the defensive zone, and his defensive play isn’t particularly notable. He doesn’t seem like a player who will ever be a regular penalty killer at the professional level.
For all the good parts of his game, there is one area that holds him back to some degree, and it’s an important one: his skating. His feet are pretty heavy, and he’s not the most smooth in his agility or stride mechanics. He does have enough lower-body power to show off an occasional burst of speed that can catch enemy defenders off guard, but those moments aren’t exactly a common occurrence.
It needs to be mentioned here, though, that Foerster doesn’t look like the most well-conditioned or developed of prospects at this point in time. You can see that not only in his actual skating ability, but also in how he’ll often stop moving his feet and look gassed as his ice time ticks upwards. That’s not a personal knock on him — not all 17-year-old hockey players have access to the same resources as they come up through youth hockey. Some prospects have years of access to high-level training facilities, personal trainers, dietitians and other valuable resources that other kids don’t. Growing up in a rural part of Ontario, as Foerster did, doesn’t usually provide quite the same opportunities as growing up in somewhere like Toronto. His lack of exposure thus far to a national program such as Hockey Canada, which instills young players with plenty of valuable training and information, is also worth noting.
The point I’m trying to make here is that Foerster doesn’t look or seem like he is as close to being a finished product physically as others in the draft — such as Alexis Lafrenière, as one obvious example — do. Similar to how Dallas Stars 2017 2nd-rounder Jason Robertson was able to improve his mobility after a few years of dedicated, NHL-assisted training and development, you can see the realistic room for growth with Foerster.
And even if his skating never becomes a strength of his game (which it won’t), his stocky 6-foot-1 frame will help him out a lot. It’s a lot easier to have skating issues at that size than 5-foot-10 because of the natural advantages in battles along the boards and in front of the net. When he goes hard to the net on the rush he’s able to out-muscle defenders and gain that crucial inside position, which should be a perk that follows him along in his career.
I’m a little higher on Foerster than most others are, and as I discussed in detail in my profile of Dylan Peterson, that’s because there’s a big difference between evaluation and projection. With his special collection of tools and the potential room for further improvement, he should be a strong consideration for any NHL team picking 20th or later in the 2020 draft.