Note: This article is part of a top-ten countdown of the Buffalo Sabres' top prospects. In order to be considered a prospect, the player has to be eligible for the Calder Trophy this season, which means they cannot have played more than 25 games in the NHL in any season prior. This removes Corey Tropp, Luke Adam, Jhonas Enroth and Cody Hodgson from contention.
Marcus Foligno has made quite the impression on Buffalo Sabres fans.
There was a largely mixed reaction when Sabres general manager Darcy Regier traded the physical Zack Kassian to the Vancouver Canucks for the smaller, more offensively gifted Cody Hodgson, with most detractors pointing to the Sabres' loss of grit as the biggest negative. Yet, once Foligno was called upon in the beginning of March, fans saw that Darcy might have had a plan after all.
After struggling in a one-game call-up right before Christmas, Foligno saw his second chance come during a series of Sabre injuries in March. Placed on a line with Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford, Foligno immediately made his presence felt.
Despite not being known as an overly offensive talent, Foligno scored 13 points in his 13-game call-up, proving that he is not only a physical presence.
An excellent skater and one who is not shy to use his size, Foligno is, at least on paper, a less offensively skilled Kassian. Kassian was never expected to score 75 points, and neither will Foligno.
Foligno's best game came on April 3 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Within the first ten seconds of the game, Foligno crushed Carl Gunnarsson, who was unable to return to the game. He then "fought" Matt Frattin, who decided to stand up for a teammate against the wrong guy and promptly lost, big time. Foligno then added two assists in the Sabres' most exciting win of the year.
This is exactly the type of play the Sabres need and want out of Foligno, especially when he is playing with such a playmaker as Ennis. Foligno will open ice for the shifty center, making for more opportunities for himself and his linemates Foligno and Stafford.
Foligno is currently playing for the Rochester Americans of the AHL as the lockout drags on. In his first three games, he scored two goals and made one assist.
Foligno will certainly be on the opening day roster for the Sabres when the first puck drops (hopefully on Nov. 2).