Return to sender?
Islanders call-up making bid to stay with big club past trade deadline
As his Truro Bearcats teammates wrapped up practice on Tuesday afternoon, Johnny Foley was passing through town on a bus.
The Bearcats rookie was with his other team – the Charlottetown Islanders – heading to Halifax for his eighth consecutive Quebec Major Junior Hockey League game.
Each day is a test for Foley, and the next 24 hours may prove whether or not he stays with the big club or returns to Truro.
“Our plan is to send him back, but he’s making it real difficult for us,” Islanders general manager Grant Sonier said on Tuesday.
Since heading to the Islanders on Dec. 11, Foley has scored twice and maintained an even plus-minus rating while playing on the fourth line. The Islanders roster has seen plenty of turnover, with Daniel Sprong returning from the NHL, Filip Chlapik heading to the world junior tournament, and several trades taking place prior to today’s trade deadline. The plan was for Foley to be a bottom-six presence until the roster found stability, at which point he was promised back to the Bearcats.
But things may not turn out that way.
“I like it here and I really want to stay,” Foley said. “Really badly.”
The 17-year-old Hammonds Plains, N.S., native made the Islanders out of training camp, but was returned to Truro in late-September. In 17 Maritime Junior Hockey League games, he posted two goals and eight assists.
Many aspects of his game have grown since the Islanders made him an 11th-round draft pick last summer, Sonier said. Chief among them has been his skating.
“It seems to be indicative of some good coaching he’s receiving there in Truro, because he’s certainly grown a lot under Shawn (Evans)’s tutelage since we saw him at the start of the season.”
Foley admitted he was let down when he was sent back to Truro, bursting his expectations of playing a full season in the Q.
“At the start of the year I was pretty disappointed to be heading back, but then I guess I saw it more as an opportunity,” he said. “I think I’ve come pretty far, in terms of being ready to play every game.”
The moves Sonier makes – or doesn’t make – by today’s 1 p.m. deadline will determine if there’s a place for Foley. If he is sent back, he’ll be a “first recall player” should they need a body, the GM said.
“He plays on our fourth line, but he scored a big goal for us the other night and shows a lot of upside. He’s got a relentless work ethic. . . He’s going to be an everyday major junior player soon.”
Charlottetown Islanders winger Johnny Foley, right, tries to get around Drummondville defenceman Frederic Aube.