The rebuilding Edmonton Oilers went out and got themselves a proven defenseman Thursday by signing Kurtis Foster, who previously played in the Northwest Division for four seasons with the Minnesota Wild, for a reported two years at $1.8 million per season.
Foster spent the 2009-10 season in Tampa Bay, piling up 42 points (8 goals and 34 assists) in 71 games. He played only 10 games in 2008-09 after breaking his left femur late in the 2007-08 season. Foster wasn't able to return to action until February 2009 when he started playing some rehab games in the AHL.
The 71 games Foster played this past season were a career-high.
"I was a wild card coming off my injury and the first little bit of the year I was getting back and getting used to the pace of the play again," Foster said on "Oilers Lunch" on the Team 1260. "Once it got going and I got used to it again and things started to go in on the power play, by the end of the year I played almost 20 minutes a night every night and I really showed myself and I think a lot of teams that I could play regular minutes on any team any night.
"To be able come back and put up the season I did this year showed not just me but everybody in the NHL that I could still do it, which made me pretty excited going into free agency this year."
Foster, who has a booming shot from the right side, said he fielded "a little bit of interest here and there" from other teams, but the chance to be a part of the Oilers' rebuilding effort was too good to pass up.
"I remember having my Oilers jersey as a kid growing up and I couldn't turn (this offer) down," Foster said. "I'm excited to be part of building a strong franchise for a long time to come.
"I was hoping to get something done with Tampa Bay and it didn't work out. Lucky enough I had a team like Edmonton that is an up-and-coming team. With drafting Taylor Hall and all the moves they're making, it's going to be a fun year in Edmonton."
Foster joins a defense that already includes Ryan Whitney, Tom Gilbert and Ladislav Smid. Sheldon Souray is also in the mix for now, but the Oilers reportedly are looking to trade him.
That wouldn't be so terrible considering Foster is also a power-play specialist with a powerful shot from the right side. Souray has a rocket from the left side, but that just means the Oilers will have to run their power play from the opposite point.
"I played against Tom quite a bit when I was in Minnesota and I know Ryan from watching Pittsburgh a lot," Foster said. "They are great NHL defenseman and they can really pass the puck. When you know you're going to get a good pass on the stick all the time your eyes light up and you get excited to shoot the puck."
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