| Nine of Kurtis Foster’s 10 goals came at the Xcel Energy Center, including this one in overtime against the Montreal Canadiens. |
wasted no time endearing himself to the fans of the Minnesota Wild. In his first game in a Wild sweater on November 19, the rookie defenseman buried the first two goals of his career in a 4-2 win over the Nashville Predators. From there, Foster went on to rack up 26 more points, finishing the season as the club’s top-scoring defenseman with 10 goals and 18 assists. The 10 tallies put him second among NHL rookie rearguards in goals.
Midway through the season, Minnesota head coach Jacques Lemaire told assembled media that the 24-year-old has the potential to be a top-tier NHL defenseman.
By signing a one-year contract with the Wild on Wednesday, the would-be restricted free agent will have the chance to continue impressing his Hall of Fame coach with his booming slap shot, and his knack for creating offense.
“Getting (the contract) done early is nice,” said Foster from his brand new home in Peterborough, Ontario. “I don’t have to worry about it over the summer or during training camp. I can focus on next year and be ready to go.”
At 6-foot-5, 235 pounds, the Carp, Ontario native possesses great size, and he showed flashes of physical play. He feels that if he can continue to progress in the defensive zone, he could earn more confidence from the Wild management and coaching staff.
“Last season was a starting block for me,” admitted Foster. “I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know many guys in the League. And, I didn’t have a lot of confidence right away. I think another year in Minnesota gives me the chance to show the confidence I gained from last season.”
With the signing of Foster, the Wild now has three defensemen from last year’s roster* – Foster, Nick Schultz and Martin Skoula – under contract for next season. Skoula is the oldest at 26, while the rest are 24 or younger. Recently-acquired Finnish star, Petteri Nummelin, is 33.
Foster was signed as a free agent by Minnesota last August, which allowed him to finally show his promise that previously went unnoticed by Atlanta and Calgary, which drafted him 40th overall in 2000.
“From the minute I arrived in Minnesota, I could feel that excitement in the building and it was such an adrenaline rush to be there,” he said of coming back for another year in Minnesota. “I think we’ve got some good solid lines and if we can re-sign some of our guys, we can make a run in the playoffs. That’s what we want and we know that’s what the fans want.”
* It was written earlier that Brent Burns was under contract, which was a mistake. Burns is a restricted free agent as of Wednesday, June 21.