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."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl