Last month, the Philadelphia Flyers selected Zayde Wisdom and Tyson Foerster in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. The first-round pick and fourth-round pick respectively have been displaying their efforts in the OHL before being drafted by the Flyers. Through the 2020-2021 season, both Wisdom and Foerster will return to the OHL to continue play. How will Philadelphia gauge their physicality without bodychecking in 2020-2021? What other metrics will be used to make up for the lack of bodychecking?
What We Know
Zayde Wisdom broke out in his second season with the Kingston Frontenacs. He’s a little undersized at 5’10”, but he’s a physical player. A lot of his offensive game comes from his ability to quickly get in on the forecheck and making life harder for goaltenders in front of the crease. Defensively, his stick skills create turnovers by poke checking. Wisdom is intense and high energy.
Tyson Foerster is a noted special teamer with half of his goals coming on the powerplay in 2019-2020 with the Barrie Colts. Many people have said his skating needs work, but I believe he is a strong skater because he is tough to knock off the puck. His speed and explosiveness won’t be anything to write home about, but his shooting is. Foerster has terrific hockey IQ on defense, which will go a long way in the NHL. The Philadelphia Flyers suffered on the powerplay in crucial situations, but Foerster could help change that.
No Bodychecking In OHL
It is purely a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bodychecking is purposeful contact in the sport of ice hockey. The idea here is that removing bodychecking will help slow the spread of COVID-19. The OHL plans to play a shortened season, much like how the NHL has proposed for 2020-2021. During an abbreviated season without bodychecking, will the players be able to adapt?
They’ll have to, and players aren’t excited about it. Hockey without hitting becomes a shell of its former self. How will scouts and coaches monitor the development of the prospects? It’s not unfair to call the 2020-2021 OHL season a sham to a degree. Zayde Wisdom is hoping that the OHL works around the decision to outlaw bodychecking in 2020-2021.
“If there’s no hitting, what’s the point of playing hockey?” That’s an honest assessment from Zayde Wisdom. Surely, defensive positioning and stick skills will be at the forefront, but taking away hitting in the sport removes a large portion of the game.
As for Tyson Foerster, he’ll likely be at the Canadian World Junior camp. The former MVP of the CHL Top Prospects Game in 2019-2020 is working alongside Hockey Canada, according to Philadelphia Flyers general manager Brent Flahr.
Monitoring OHL Development
Some of what can continue to be monitored throughout 2020-2021 as the OHL currently stands are the finer defensive aspects of Tyson Foerster and Zayde Wisdom. Some different aspects of defense, such as taking away passing lanes, blocking shots, fundamental positioning, and transitional hockey will become vastly more important. Without bodychecking, both players will have to focus on other parts of their game that need to be improved.
Skating is what the majority of people point to when discussing Tyson Foerster’s flaws. In a season without bodychecking, his explosiveness in transition will become more vital. The 2020-2021 OHL season won’t be one to gauge the development of these players throughout their full hockey ability. If Foerster focuses on improving his speed, he’ll be closer to complete.
We know that Zayde Wisdom is willing to hit and play physically. His challenge is different than Tyson Foerster’s. Wisdom can still play with an aggressive mind, which could mean he anticipates more plays defensively. In a season where offensive productivity will blast off, Wisdom’s focus should be on mastering deflections for scoring and screening goaltenders. His Kingston Frontenacs team is close to being in position for a playoff berth, which is something Wisdom can take away from the 2020-2021 OHL season.
Mandatory Credit – Alex McIntyre