With year two about to begin, the Spitfires’ two budding stars are trying not to focus on their upcoming draft.
Following two impressive rookie seasons, in which forwards Jean-Luc Foudy and William Cuylle finished top six in scoring on their team, an air of expectation has begun to surround the young stars. Foudy’s 49 points were good for third on the team in scoring, including a team-high 41 assists. While Cuylle showed off his goal-scoring ability in his rookie season, scoring 26 goals.
Because of this, the two 2020 NHL draft-eligible players have begun to climb the draft ranking. With both expected to go within the first two rounds come July. On top of this, the team and fans have put a lot of pressure on the two 17-year-olds. Heading into the season the pair is expected to help lead the team and take on a bigger role. While many eyes will be focused on them, the two are trying not to focus too much on their draft.
“I’ll try not to pay much attention to it,” said Foudy. “Maybe someone will come up to me and say stuff about it. For the most part, I’ll stay away from googling it and having that get into my head.”
Much like Foudy, Cuylle said he has a similar mindset heading into the season. Focusing more on the season itself and not letting draft rankings get in his head.
“I’m just going to focus on my game and just do what I can out there on the ice and let the rest take care of itself,” said Cuylle. “I expect a lot more from myself and I’m looking to make a bigger impact this year. Not only for myself but also for the team’s success.”
While both players said that they are trying to focus on the season at hand, they are both trying to show off what makes them special to scouts. Comparing themselves to current NHL players they like to watch.
“I like to compare myself to Mitch Marner or Mathew Barzal. They’re both fast hockey players that like the puck on there stick and can make plays,” said Foudy. “My strongest asset is definitely my speed and my ability to make plays while going at full speed.”
Scouts might find some similarities within the games of Foudy, Marner, and Barzal. As rookies, they all put up similar point totals [Marner and Barzal finished with 59 and 54 points as rookies] and showed off their ability to pass the puck.
Cuylle, on the other hand, feels he fits the mold of a power forward that can get in close and bury some of the dirtier goals.
“I try and play like Jamie Benn, just like a physical power forward who can score goals and make plays,” said Cuylle. “My best asset is my goal scoring. I find the right spots on the ice to get open around the net, as well as outworking guys around the net.”
However, both players acknowledged that there are still some weaknesses in their games. Cuylle said in order to develop into that prototypical power forward he is going to continue to add strength. Saying that this would allow him to continue to win puck battles at the next level. Foudy said that he is still trying to develop his 200ft game. Adding that he is also looking to shoot more this upcoming season and bury a few more goals.
“Over the summer I worked on my shooting and everything. I’m a little more confident with my shot, so going into this season I’m expecting to score some more goals,” said Foudy.
Foudy also has the ability to lean on his older brother heading into his draft year. In 2018, Foudy’s older brother Liam was drafted 18th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Since Liam has experienced the trials of going through his draft year Foudy said it will allow him to lean on him.
“With him going through the draft he can give me some tips here and there so it’s kind of easier for me,” said Foudy.
Heading into the season both players have high expectations about where they should go in the draft. With most draft rankings having the pair within the 20-40 pick range. While neither of the two would say who they think will go higher in the draft, both agreed it’s a good thing to have each other pushing one another.
“You want to see your teammates succeed but you also want to succeed as well,” said Cuylle. “We are going to just push each other and try and make each other better every day and hopeful it works out well.”