The Flyers are getting a good look at what the future of this team could be moving forward. John Tortorella vowed to play the kids and he has done just that. And as of late, most of them are impressing. Especially the recent call-up in Tyson Foerster.
Foerster is getting his first taste of NHL action after spending the previous three years between his junior team and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Due to the junior leagues shutting down during the pandemic, Foerster was able to play in the AHL earlier than normal. His debut didn’t go as planned, though, as he missed a few weeks with a shinbone injury. He played fairly well once he returned, posting 10 goals and 17 points in 24 games.
Foerster suffered a shoulder injury in November of last season, costing him five months. He was sent back to the Barrie Colts of the OHL upon his return, joining the team for their playoff run. He appeared in 13 regular season games and six post season games before re-joining the Phantoms to finish the season.
Now after a full year in Lehigh Valley, Foerster is showing the Flyers that he is ready for the NHL. Named an AHL All-Star, Foerster is second on the team in goals (19) and is tied for first in points (39) with Elliot Desnoyers. With the Flyers well out of things in the playoff race, they’re able to get a look of some of their prospects.
Tortorella has had to temper his excitement when it comes to Foerster. The plan is to have him, as well as Egor Zamula, up with the team this week since the Phantoms are off until the weekend. When Sunday rolls around, both are expected to return to Lehigh to continue the playoff push there.
"“I need to temper myself, I’ve seen it. But you have to temper yourself as I’m thinking about next year. And have him go through camp. I hope he goes through a long playoff run with Lehigh. And then we’ll see where he sits as we go through. The way he’s handled himself, it’s encouraging.” Tortorella said after Monday’s practice."
Foerster’s offensive game has shined bright in his last few games. He has five points in his last three games, including his first NHL goal against Carolina. Even before that, he came close more than a few times to scoring. His shot is well known in the organization so it’s no surprise to see that.
But as Tortorella said after Tuesday’s game, Foerster is doing other things on the ice as well. He’s blocking shots, not turning pucks over. And that will help him when it comes to next season. So will returning to the Phantoms and playing in meaningful games down there.
That’s why despite Foerster’s good play, the decision to get him more time with Lehigh Valley remains the goal.
"”No, because it’s too important. It’s such a great process if they do win some rounds down there for him to go there and go through that. That’s very important in his development.” Tortorella said on if Foerster is making the decision on sending him back hard."
Right now, the Phantoms are fifth in the Atlantic Division. With only 10 games remaining, there is not any room for error. Especially after dropping their last three games. So while this NHL time is essential for the Flyers to see what their future may look like, gaining valuable payoff experience in the AHL is a clear goal as well.
Foerster may likely be heading back down when the weekend roles around. But he has already shown the Flyers what they can expect next season. It’ll be up to him to keep giving the team a reason to keep him up.