Tyson Foerster, the big, 19-year-old right winger who was drafted in the first round by the Flyers last year, will not play again for the AHL’s Phantoms this season.
His season ended Wednesday when he suffered a separated collarbone early in the Phantoms’ 2-1 win over Binghamton in Newark, N.J., according to Brent Flahr, a Flyers assistant general manager who attended the game.
Surgery is not required, and Foerster will soon begin his rehab, Flahr said Thursday, estimating the recovery period was four to six weeks.
Just 1 minute, 59 seconds into the game, Foerster went headfirst into the end boards after being hit by defenseman Matthew Hellickson. Foerster was helped off the ice, and Hellickson was given a boarding major and a game misconduct.
Flahr said Foerster would not play in the Phantoms’ final two games, both at home. They host Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Saturday night, and Binghamton on Sunday at 3 p.m.
The 6-foot-2, 194-pound Ontario native was outstanding in his first pro season, collecting 10 goals and 17 points in 24 games with the Phantoms. He was an underage player and was allowed to play in the AHL this season only because the Ontario Hockey League season was canceled due to the pandemic.
Foerster missed a month after suffering a small fracture on his right shinbone during the Feb. 6 opener.
“You never know how they’re going to handle it, playing against men,” Flahr said of Foerster’s jump to the AHL. “He had an unfortunate injury in the first game, and then when he got back, it took him a game or two to get going, and then he really started to go. You could tell the hockey sense and skill that he had. And not only that, but he plays with a little swagger. It was exciting to see, and you could see how he’s going to improve over time with strength and just growing into his body.”
Phantoms coach Scott Gordon said Foerster’s skating improved during the season, and he became “one of the faster guys on the forecheck and back-check.”
In a recent interview with The Inquirer, Gordon said Foerster had poise with the puck, was defensively responsible, and displayed excellent on-ice vision. “He doesn’t turn the puck over, and he’s got a great shot,” Gordon said.
Gordon said Foerster’s offense improved because of “the details that are in his game,” and called him “the whole package. He added all the details that go into being a successful hockey player.”
Foerster probably needs more grooming before he reaches the NHL, but he will have a chance to make the Flyers out of training camp next season.
As a 19-year-old, Foerster would have to return to the OHL next year unless the rules change. So would rugged Zayde Wisdom (7 goals, 17 points in 26 games), an 18-year-old Phantoms winger who has also had a very good season. After being slowed by the coronavirus, Wisdom has a total of five points in his last two games.
“The experience has been great for both of them,” Flahr said.
If the rules stay the same, the wingers would return to their OHL teams, which might stunt their growth after playing so well in the AHL.
“There’s enough [young] players who have had some success in the AHL, so if you asked some GMs, they would probably like to have the choice to keep a kid in the American League or send him back to junior,” Flahr said. “But the rules are in place with the CHL [Canadian Hockey League] agreement, and unless something changes, that’s the reality.”