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Could Tyson Foerster contend for the Calder Trophy this season?

(Heather Barry Images, LLC)

After a stellar beginning to his NHL career last season, Tyson Foerster is looking to carve out a permanent and consistent role in Philadelphia this year.

In just 8 games with the Flyers, Foerster registered 3 goals and 4 assists for 7 points to accompany a +2 rating and 8 penalty minutes. Over the course of an 82-game season, that would have put him on pace for about 30 goals, 41 assists, and 71 points.

Now, that likely isn’t sustainable for someone with so little experience in the big leagues, but what could we possibly see out of Foerster in his first full NHL season? And could he be a legitimate threat to win the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie?

Let’s take a look.

On offense, we’ve seen that lethal shot of his. He might very well already be the best pure shooter on the team.

Even in the AHL with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Foerster’s lethal wrister was on full display.

Foerster clearly has a knack for finding the back of the net and is great with the puck on his stick, but the defensive side of the game is where he has also begun to excel at and it flies under the radar.

Flyers head coach John Tortorella was enamored with Foerster during his recall, praising him almost as much as any player during the entire season.

“Just puck protection, positioning. I think he gets it away from the puck. With not much coaching from us, but Lappy’s done a terrific job down there with teaching him the complete game,” said Tortorella back on March 24th.

Foerster was able to learn to play with more physicality and with more defensive awareness with Lehigh Valley, and it showed in Philadelphia. Across his 8-game stint with the Flyers, Foerster blocked 10 shots, the sixth-most on the team and second-most among forwards behind Owen Tippett. Foerster also racked up 12 hits during his recall, tied for sixth-most on the team and fourth among Flyers forwards.

On March 22nd, Tortorella also said, “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 another piece that maybe falls into place next year for us.”

Well, Tortorella may be right, and Foerster could be a piece that takes the Flyers another step forward in their rebuild this season. The goal is to help young players develop and to identify and build the core of this franchise, and the 2020 first-round draft pick is looking to be one of the players that stands out among the rest and pave the way for future glory.

In saying that, there will be some growing pains over his first 82-game NHL season, but that’s okay. Mistakes will happen, but the two-way game that Foerster brings to the Flyers will only get better and better with time.

Should Foerster have a good rookie campaign, he could garner some Calder Trophy consideration. If he can hit the 20-goal plateau and reach anywhere from 40-50 points, that will be considered a successful campaign, but if he can somehow eclipse those numbers and be even better, he could be a serious dark horse contender for the trophy.

Noah Cates was in a similar situation last season, where he played a handful of games the year prior, made the Flyers’ roster out of training camp, and wowed people in his first full season while playing among a stacked rookie class. Cates finished 9th in Calder voting, including receiving one 2nd-place vote, among a class consisting of Matty Beniers, Stuart Skinner, Owen Power, Mattias Maccelli, and Wyatt Johnston, among others. Of course, Cates is more known for his outstanding defensive play and will be a consistent Selke Trophy candidate for years to come, while Foerster is more known for his offensive abilities. Still, it’s funny to think about the similarities.

Foerster will have a lot of competition in the race as he’ll be going up against Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli, Leo Carlsson, Logan Cooley, Devon Levi, Luke Hughes, Shane Wright, David Jiřiček, Šimon Nemec, Brandt Clarke, and Matthew Knies, among other top rookies. It is definitely a much more vaunted class than 2023’s, but hopefully having the slight NHL experience over most of the names listed can give Foerster a boost.

Bedard is the odds-on favorite to win the award, and for good reason as the most hyped prospect in hockey since Connor McDavid entered the league, but should he slip up at any point, the award could be for the taking by anyone else. If Buffalo makes the playoffs for the first time in 13 years, Levi could win the award should he earn the Sabres’ starting job over Ukko-Pekka Luukonen. Carlsson and Fantilli went 2nd and 3rd, respectively, behind Bedard in this year’s draft and are complemented by other young solid pieces on their teams and will rack up points. Cooley has been massively hyped after a stellar college career and after signing his entry-level deal, the Coyotes seem more hopeful and destined for major improvement. Nemec and Hughes are the future of an already great Devils blueline and will make the team even better. Wright was once touted as the top prospect in his draft class and after a season mostly spent in the AHL, he’ll be hungry to help Seattle make another playoff run. Jiřiček, Clarke, and Knies all also carry previous limited NHL experience as well and have been impressive so far.

The last 14 winners of the award have been skaters, as no goaltender has won the Calder Trophy since Steve Mason in 2009. The last 8 of those skaters have eclipsed 50 points or higher in their Calder-winning seasons, including an 85-point season from Mathew Barzal in 2018, a 77-point season from Artemi Panarin in 2016, a 69-point season from Auston Matthews in 2017, and a 66-point season from Elias Pettersson in 2019.

Matty Beniers won the award with 24 goals, 33 assists and 57 points last season. Based on what we saw from Foerster, that kind of statline seems very possible for him to attain. But will it be enough to win the award in this upcoming class though? Maybe not, especially if the other rookies perform as advertised and light the league on fire, and Foerster might need to try and replicate one of the more elite rookie seasons we’ve seen in recent history to have a shot.

In short, Foerster has his work cut out for him if he does want to be a part of the Calder race, but he is more than capable of living up to the task. No Flyers player has ever won the award, but Foerster may have the best chance we’ve seen since Shayne Gostisbehere’s 2nd place finish in the 2016 award’s voting.

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Managing Editor at Flyers Nation. Proud lifelong supporter of the Philadelphia Flyers and all things hockey related. Steve Mason's #1 fan.

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