RE 10-11: Kurtis Foster

This is a pretty famous play in the career of Kurtis Foster. He’s just broken his leg (Shark winger is Torrey Mitchell and this is March 2008) after one of those “race to the icing” plays that Don Cherry gets so upset about a few times a season.

Foster had more than 6 hours of surgery and a rod inserted to repair an obviously serious fracture. “It was a long surgery that was complicated by the type of break and the amount of muscle tissue they needed to go through to be able to insert the rods,” said (at the time) Minnesota general manager Doug Risebrough.

Playing defense in the NHL is a crazy risk anyway, but playing it after enduring a severe injury takes some matzah balls. Kurtis Foster has gumption.

•Boxcars: 71gp, 8-34-42
•Shots: 165
•Plus Minus: -5
•Corsi (Rel): 8.0 (best on TBAY)
•GF/GA ON: 40-41
•5×5/60: 0.87
•5×4/60: 5.45
•Quality of Competition: easiest available
•Quality of Teammates: best available
•Cap Hit: $1,800,000 times 2

  1. What do these numbers tell us? He was standing in peaceful waters the whole season. Seriously. According to Desjardins Foster couldn’t have asked for a better slot in the batting order. Having said that, he killed the soft parade (well, the PP) and credit where due. Kurtis Foster delivered offensively in ideal weather.
  2. How could these numbers be better? 62% of his offense came on the PP (this compares to Gilbert at 29% and 44% for Whitney). I’d love these numbers if they came against tougher competition or were less skewed toward the PP. Love the numbers anyway.
  3. How much will he play on the PP? Well, last season Foster finished 16th (among D) in the entire league for PP time-on-ice per game (3:50) and all told he spent about 4.5 hours with the man advantage. Ryan Whitney and Lubomir Visnovsky were also in the range btw in terms of minutes played. That’s his profile. I don’t think he’ll play as much 5×4 because the Oilers are badly in need of a 5×5 player for the 2nd pairing. Foster–right now–is the obvious candidate to play with Smid.
  4. How much more will he play at EVs? Foster played only 13 minutes a night at even strength a year ago, and that number will clearly increase. By way of putting this total in context, the Oilers had 11 defensemen play over 15 games for them last season. ALL of them played more than 14 minutes a night at even strength. Likely top tandem Whitney/Gilbert averaged 18 and about 17 minutes a night and Smid/Lubo also played 17 a night. Kurtis Foster was hired to play in the top 4 and he’s going to be out there at EVs and on the PK.
  5. How much did he penalty kill? He played 15.5 minutes all season on the PK. The Lightning loved him on the PP and had men like Mike Lundin play the tougher competition.
  6. Why wouldn’t the Oilers play Foster the same way? Lots of PP minutes and then very little EV and PK? They can’t, they don’t have enough defensemen who can play at EVs and on the PK as it is. Kurtis Foster is going to play more minutes at even strength this coming season. That’s his role.
  7. Okay, so 17 minutes a night at EVs and 2.5 on the PP. Very fair, but that means his overall offensive number is reduced to a total more reflective of his EV totals. No St. Louis and Stamkos helping his PP number either.
  8. Your projected number below is larger than the one you posted on ON. SpOILer (and others) pointed out that he did kill the PP and although I think he’ll spend significantly less time on the PP this season he should post a bigger number than I’d originally projected.
  9. So you were wrong. Yes.
  10. Care to go back and look at the Hall projection? No. The idea is to be reasonable. My original number for Foster wasn’t reasonable. It is closer now, although if you see him playing on the 1PP it will still be shy of your total.
  11. Why can’t Foster play the role you’ve projected for Gilbert? Gilbert is a better player. He’s faced tougher competition, has never averaged fewer than 20 minutes a night and is more proven across the board. As is Whitney. NHL coaches dole out TOI to their defensemen with precision. Gilbert plays 22 minutes a night and will probably play more than that this coming season. Whitney too. If Foster can handle 19.5 minutes and the 2nd toughs we should consider this an exceptional signing.
  12. Do you think he can cover the bet? I think he’s an excellent choice for the chore. Tambellini chose a guy who may have developed into the player he was searching for if not for the terrible injury. He might be Roy Hobbs.

Prediction for 2010-11: 64gp, 9-18-27
Can he play the tougher minutes?

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