RALEIGH, N.C. – Though it was just following the first on-ice session of training camp, Carolina Hurricanes forward Warren Foegele looked as though he was still in postseason mode.
Finishing his rookie season as part of a group that helped the Hurricanes make the playoffs for the first time in 10 years, his attitude and mindset was laser-focused to do his part to help the team repeat the feat this season.
Expect to see Foegele look bigger, stronger and faster.
Most players talk about working on one or two areas of their game during the offseason.
He went into detail talking about multiple, thanks to productive time spent working out with high quality NHL talent this past summer.
With former Hurricanes forward Gary Roberts, an NHL All-Star and Stanley Cup champion, holding his training programs at Foegele’s former prep school arena (St. Andrews College) in Aurora, Ontario, the familiar surroundings enhanced his training environment.
The company he kept on and off the ice provided a lot of incentive to get better every day, a tenet of head coach Rod Brind’Amour’s philosophy.
“It was a short summer, but that’s a good thing,” Foegele pointed out.
“There was a bunch of us (training with Roberts) – McDavid, Kessel, Stamkos, Tanev brothers, James Neal, Tkachuk brothers. I was there full-time; it was a great group of guys. The pace there’s pretty high and we’re all competitive, and we push as hard as we can. We’re out there to get better, have fun and compete.”
Foegele’s skating power and speed to go with his six-foot, two-inch frame is a strength he’s possessed since his prep school days and was a major reason then-GM Ron Francis selected him in the third round (67th overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft.
On Friday and throughout the weekend, he looked impressive skating alongside newly acquired forward Eric Haula and prospect Martin Necas.
“I used the same skating coaches as last year,” he said.
“Just tried to get quicker and worked on my lateral movement. I feel pretty confident (in my skating), but you’re always trying to improve. Every year you wanna get better.”
Still growing physically into his adult body at 23 years old, he looked like he added some weight in the offseason.
“I tried to get bigger which I think I did,” Foegele said.
“Much more muscle mass than last year.”
How much bigger?
Smiling, he said, “I don’t know, I just keep hearin’ that I’m a lot bigger than last year, so I’ll take that as a compliment.”
While challenging opposing defenders to slow him down, Foegele expects to produce offensively in his role to battle for pucks and create and finish plays.
He’s worked on his shooting, seeking to at least match and improve upon a 10-goal, 15-point regular season that was followed up by a five-goal, nine-point playoff finish, and tallying four game-winners throughout the year.
On the surface, not high quantitative totals, but qualitative ones that made a difference.
“I worked on different releases and stuff like that,” Foegele noted.
“That’s starting to pay dividends it looks like in scrimmages here. And obviously work on breakaways here and hopefully I can cash in on more of those this year.”
Feeling nervous to fully begin his NHL career after four years of working to earn a roster spot following camp last year, Foegele allows himself to feel a similar twinge, readying to embark on another season – just to keep things fresh.
“I think you’re always nervous the first day of camp,” he concluded.
“It’s the first day you’re out (on the ice) with the boys and the grind officially starts as a team, so a little bit nervous. But I’m excited for this year and I just want to keep pushing forward and trying to get better.”
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