Foligno, a 24-year-old native of Buffalo, New York, will earn $9.25 million over three years with the Blue Jackets, according to General Manager Scott Howson. The contract will pay $2.5 millon for 2012-13, $3 million for 2013-14 and $3.75 million for 2014-15. A restricted free agent with the Senators, he was traded to the Blue Jackets on July 1 for defenseman Marc Methot.
“We’re excited about Nick. He’s a versatile forward coming off a career year,” said Howson. “Where he fits will be up to him, but certainly we see him really contributing. He’ll increase our competitive level and he can play virtually every forward position.”
Foligno, who found out about his trade from his brother during a friend’s wedding, was at first shocked but now embraces the change. Luckily, he already has a connection to his new team – defenseman Jack Johnson. The two were teammates on the 2009 and 2010 World Championships teams and first met through the National Team Development Program.
“I can’t say enough about how happy I am about the opportunity I’m getting here in Columbus,” Foligno said a few days after the trade. “(Johnson) is a great talent and a good friend. I got to know him at a young age, and I’m sure I’ll get in touch with him in the next little while here.
“It’s nice to see familiar faces. I know Derek MacKenzie, and I got a nice text from James Wisniewski as well. I’m really looking forward to getting to know the guys there, getting this team started off on the right foot and try to get back to winning ways.”
Foligno was drafted 28th overall by the Senators in the 2006 NHL Draft and spent the 2007-08 season playing with both the Senators and the AHL Binghamton Senators. In the 2008-09 season, his first season in Ottawa, he recorded 17-15-32 and 59 PIM in 81 games, setting a career high in goals. Over his NHL career, he’s registered 61-87-148 and 399 PIM in 351 career games, and since March 16, 2010 he’s had a streak of playing in 177 consecutive games. In the 2011-12 season, Foligno hit career highs in assists, points and PIM with 15-32-47, 142 PIM and a +2 in 82 games with an added 1-3-4 and 8 PIM in seven Stanley Cup playoff games.
As for the upcoming season, Foligno welcomes the challenge ahead of him.
“There are going to be some ups and downs, but I’m definitely looking at myself to fill in that offensive role and be a contributor on a nightly basis, and be a solid all-around player. It’s definitely something I pride myself on and want to be able to do. Hopefully, surrounded by the right guys, I can bring that to the team.”