When Nick Foligno left the Columbus Blue Jackets at the NHL Trade Deadline this season, traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, many expected that he could return to the team this off-season. The Columbus captain since 2015, Foligno has strong ties to the organization and the city, enough that there was an expectation that the veteran forward would re-sign with the rebuilding club. While Foligno is technically the property of the Maple Leafs until July 28 and is now able to negotiate with the Seattle Kraken after being exposed in the Expansion Draft, this was the anticipated path of his off-season and the expectation remained that it would end back in Columbus.
Not so fast, says Bally Sports Andy Strickland. If there was any other team the could seduce Foligno from Columbus, it would be the Minnesota Wild, where his brother Marcus Foligno is a core player and signed long-term, not to mention protected from the Expansion Draft. That appears to be exactly what he is thinking. Strickland reports that there is a “strong possibility” that Foligno joins his brother in Minnesota when the free agent market opens next week.
Foligno, 33, is a gritty, hard-working forward who wins puck battles and creates offense in front of the net. Even as he has gotten older, Foligno’s offense has remained consistent throughout his career, scoring between 0.4 and 0.65 points per game in 12 of his 13 full NHL seasons (the one exception was a .92 PPG aberration in 2014-15). Foligno is also a smart, experienced leader, both in the locker room and on the ice. Foligno could help to make up for the recent departures of long-time Wild leaders Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, even replacing Parise’s middle-six winger role. The fit makes sense for a Minnesota team that is looking to take a step forward this coming season after a major turnaround in 2020-21.