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Flyers’ Tyson Foerster Getting Selke Trophy Plaudits

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Tyson Foerster has blown the Philadelphia Flyers coaching staff away this season. (Photo: AP)

It’s pretty rare to see an NHL rookie at the front of the chase for the Frank J. Selke Trophy at the end of January. That’s what makes Philadelphia Flyers winger Tyson Foerster one-of-a-kind.

“To me, [the detailed play] kind of fast-forwards him as far as what it is to be a pro, and the things you have to do as a National Hockey Leaguer,” Flyers head coach John Tortorella said of Foerster in December. “It’s great seeing him score the goals, but it’s been so impressive as far as the other stuff. That’s caught us off guard, as a coaching staff.”

Tortorella even went as far as to say Foerster has been one of the most consistent Flyers in terms of puck battles and using his stick.

“We didn’t realize how equipped he was,” Tortorella had said. “He’s been our most consistent guy at it – on the team.”

At least one analytics model has picked up on Foerster’s play, and it’s none other than Evolving-Hockey.

And, according to Evolving-Hockey’s model, the 22-year-old is second in the league in even-strength defense Goals Above Replacement, with 5.2. Only Jack Drury of the Carolina Hurricanes (5.3) has more. Foerster is also 49th in the entire NHL in total GAR, narrowly trailing a well-known two-way monster like Mark Stone (37th).

It cannot be overstated how big of a revelation Foerster would be if he did come away with a Selke Trophy in his rookie season. To my knowledge, this has never been done, though Michael Peca won the Selke Trophy in his second full NHL season in 1996-97.

Foerster’s main drawback at the moment is his lack of scoring, though he has lit the lamp three times in his last five games. I’m sure the Flyers wouldn’t mind if the rookie eventually developed into a Stone-type player – an NHL captain who has scored 20 or more goals seven times in his career.

That’s what this organization needs.

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