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2022 Player Ratings: Nick Foligno and the crushing burden of expectations

Sometimes even players that check all the boxes for potential fan favorite can’t overcome the weight of expectations

Buffalo Sabres v Boston Bruins Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

Nick Foligno in 2022

Writer Rating: 3.3

Reader Rating: 2.8

Nick Foligno in 2022.

Nicholas Foligno in Two Thousand and Twenty Two.

Nick Foligno, a Left-Wing Forward for the Boston Bruins...In the 2021 to 2022 season.

He will be paid $3.8 Million AAV for another season, and then he will be off the books like a number of players currently signed to the B’s roster this upcoming year. This comes out as $2.8 Million in actual salary and a million added as a signing bonus. He had 2 goals, 11 assists, leading up to 13 points.

...I figure the reader rating says the whole thing, right?

No player this year drew as much ire throughout the season at such a consistent rate than Foligno. Sure, sometimes Brad or Pasta would do something to get a minority of fans riled up and Jake DeBrusk had his fits and starts and was traded to nearly half the western conference by fans off and on, but nobody was consistently listed as a weak link to the Bruins’ overall performance like Nick Foligno was.

And why not, really? Fans were sold a bill of goods on this player that he would be the kind of “perfect Bruin” that is often bandied about whenever a forward who has more than five hits a game gains a reputation for being Physical. And to Foligno’s credit, he did indeed bring physicality and effort to most of his shifts.

And...that’d be about it. And that’s also where most of his problems started.

While Foligno was definitely the kind of dude who battled when in the corners and threw his presence around when needed, one of the defining aspects of his play is that he is 33 years old after what is increasingly creeping up on 20 years of NHL hockey doing exactly that.

While a decent complement for Charlie Coyle on his best day, the reality is that for many games, Foligno struggled mightily to get any of that high effort game to actually translate to points on a scoresheet, and any of that high effort he brought chafed against what the Atlantic Division tried doing and appears to be trying to do more of this year; get faster and get uber-talented, and let those two things make the hits and battles so much harder to win.

Your effort should be rewarded far before New Year’s Day, is all I’m saying.

And you know what? On paper, that’s fine. That’s fine if you are a contributor in the bottom six who brings more of the kind of thing that keeps dudes coming to games yelling “FUCKIN’ HIT EM/SOMEBODY” as opposed to “GET IT OUTTA THERE!” when in the defensive zone.

There’s a place for players like that in the league, because that kind of player can still have a positive impact, even if it’s not entirely on the printout at the end of the game. Foligno by all accounts seems to be an excellent locker room presence and as we’ll see in the stats section, not a bad presence defensively.

But at $3.8mil AAV? That needs to be more than just on-paper.

The real reason fans are mad at Fliggy is because he signed that $3.8mil AAV contract to put up what effectively became two goals worth 1.9 million each in a 64 game stint. That would be a hard sell for anybody, but cap prognostication and discussion of the Bruins’ future has made it only a harder pill to swallow.

He had his injuries of course, there’s rarely players on this team that don’t, and that contributed to his woes...but far more often than not, it seems like the kind of play Foligno brought just wasn’t enough to effort through when you’re being paid enough to be a third liner.

Foligno’s 2021-22 season was the same lesson learned from David Backes’ final year in Boston: That sometimes looking for “Natural Bruins” means contending with the actual miles on bodies like that, and unlike your dad’s ‘85 Thunderbird, you can’t Bondo your way out of age and wear on a human frame...even if it’s an athlete’s.

I do hope he has a better 22-23 season, because I don’t think he deserves to have the back nine of his career defined by an engorged contract, but I also think that he needs to hit the ground running.

There’s only so much time left in his career.


I think the most frustrating part of Foligno’s game? By far?

The fact that he, if things just broke right for him, could still be a contributor. His defensive game is still there. He can even do things towards an offense. It just...never made it to where people could see it. It’s like watching a solid B student get a D- for the first time in years. It just feels like something happened outside of his control, but it wasn’t! You are better than this!

C’mon, Nick. Just get that touch again! Everything I wrote could be erased if you just managed to get a few extra goals next year!