The Colorado Avalanche continue to make changes to their group, this time recalling prospect Jean-Luc Foudy. The young forward will be joining the team on a regular for the first time in his career; his only other NHL experience was as a Black Ace last spring during Colorado’s playoff run.
There is real excitement about the 2020 third-round pic, who has five goals and 14 points in 18 games with the Colorado Eagles, especially because of the way he has been able to develop the last few years. Normally (as new Seattle Kraken fans are learning), a player selected out of the CHL is not able to be assigned for an extended period of time to the AHL until they are 20 years old. It is either the NHL or back to junior, a difficult decision for some that have shown an ability to dominate their peers through a specific skill.
Some hockey minds wonder whether it is good for their development at all, to continue playing at a level that doesn’t challenge them to find other ways to compete. Foudy was potentially going to be one of these players, given the elite speed and athleticism that he possesses. He had been an offensive force from the moment he entered the OHL, scoring 49 points as a rookie.
Because of the way COVID-19 restrictions played out, however, Foudy never played a game in junior after he was drafted. The 2020-21 OHL season was canceled, leaving players eligible to suit up in other leagues. The Avalanche sent their young forward to the AHL, where he played 34 games for the Colorado Eagles. Overmatched as an 18-year-old for much of the season, he would score just three goals, 14 points, and finished with a -17 rating.
In 2021-22 he still wouldn’t have qualified for AHL play, but a one-time exemption was made for players who suited up at least 20 times in the previous COVID-affected season. Since Foudy had played 34 games for Colorado, he was allowed to spend last year with the Eagles as well. While things still started out difficult, by the end of the season he had learned how to play at that level, and was a strong performer in the playoffs, scoring four goals and seven points in nine games.
It was no surprise that he came back this year even better, and has now earned a call-up to the big squad. As one of the first players with a development path like this, Foudy will be an interesting case to watch in the coming years.