Why did the NY Islanders sign speedy former first rounder Liam Foudy?

St Louis Blues v Columbus Blue Jackets
St Louis Blues v Columbus Blue Jackets / Jason Mowry/GettyImages

On Wednesday, the New York Islanders signed 24-year-old forward Liam Foudy to a one-year, two-way deal, adding organization depth and NHL experience to a young Bridgeport (AHL) roster.

Foudy has always been viewed as a project with a trait highly coveted in today's National Hockey League - speed. That elite-level speed led to the Columbus Blue Jackets taking a swing and selecting him 18th overall in the 2018 NHL Draft despite other questions about his game.

Since then, his professional career has been a series of spurts and stops. After playing 90 games across five seasons with Columbus, the team reluctantly put him on waivers last season where the Nashville Predators claimed him. He skated in 12 games for the Preds and had three assists. With the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL, he had 16 points (10G, 6A) in 28 games. Despite strong AHL numbers, Foudy didn't receive a qualifying offer from GM Barry Trotz, making him a free agent.

Most didn't project him to be a top-line scorer but a player who could impact the bottom six and, at worst, be a fourth-line energy type who could also kill penalties. In his 2022 Prospect Pool Rankings for The Athletic, Scott Wheeler, who had Foudy ranked No. 6 for Columbus that season, wrote, "he’s a brilliant, explosive skater with world-class acceleration and top speed. Those things make him an effective forechecker, a threat to turn defenders, an option on flips out of the zone for breakaways."

Foudy had his best season in 2022-23, playing 62 games with the Blue Jackets, scoring seven goals and seven assists while playing around 12 minutes a game. He was a fourth-liner for Columbus that season, and that's probably the most likely NHL role for him moving forward in his career, with his ceiling being a third-liner at times.

He's a no-risk signing for GM Lou Lamoriello and perhaps a player who could potentially find some time in the NHL this season. His speed and work ethic could complement a new-look, revamped fourth line for Patrick Roy's roster as Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin remained unsigned. Columbus fans long waited to see if the other parts of Foudy's game could ever approach his natural speed. That didn't happen, but it doesn't mean he can't be a serviceable depth piece with upside for an organization and where he fits in with the Islanders next season.