This was not an easy season for Kurtis Foster. It has been documented in many places and the most recent article I’ve read is here.
For the purposes of the “reasonable expectations” post below reviewing his season, I’ve avoided the events in this story except for vague references. It would however be folly not to acknowledge that these things must have had an enormous impact on Kurtis Foster.
Kurtis Foster 10-11
- 5×5 points per 60: 0.55 (5th among Oil D)
- 5×4 points per 60: 2.93 (2nd among Oil D)
- Qual Comp: easiest among D
- Qual Team: 4th best available among D
- Corsi Rel: 2.0 (tied for 4th best among D)
- Zone Start: 54.5% (easiest among D)
- Zone Finish: 52.9% (best among D)
- Shots on goal/percentage: 182 shots/8 goals 4.4% (5th best)
- Boxcars: 74gp, 8-14-22
- Plus Minus: -12 on a team that was -52
- What do these numbers tell us? As with last season, Foster played easy minutes. He didn’t deliver offensively at EVs or on the PP in a similar fashion to his 2009-10 season, but the 5×5/60 number isn’t off that much (down from .87 to .55) and is in the middle for the Edmonton Oilers blue overall. His CorsiRel is also about average for this team, and he finished in a tie for 11th in SOG for the entire league. Foster is an NHL veteran–he needed to be better.
- How could these numbers be better? In watching him play–EVs or PP–I never got the feeling Foster was a confident, dependable player. He looked tentative with the puck, his shot was often wayward and his coverage was poor. He looked wooden, and he appeared to be the exact opposite of an NHL veteran. His passes were not tape-to-tape, he seemed out of time.
- How could these NUMBERS be better? He needed to deliver more. Foster played easy opposition, had an excellent zone start and almost 4 minutes a night on the powerplay. His CorsiRel is tied for 4th best in the league but his toughness of opponent married to his experience should have delivered a better number. It should have been a strong matchup for the Oilers.
- Being on the Oilers powerplay isn’t a blessing. True, but he was brought in because of huge PP numbers the previous season (3-23-26) and delivered about half (5-9-14). Foster was often shooting blanks and couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn door many times.
- Who were his EV partners? Smid (27%), Vandermeer (20%) and Strudwick (12%).
- Those are third pairing guys. He was playing third pairing minutes.
- They should trade him? I don’t know if he has trade value at this time. I’d explore that option, but at some point the Oilers will have to figure out a role for him on the 11-12 team.
- How should they use him? I’m tempted to say the same way as this past season (13 at EVs, 4 on PP, easy opposition at EVs and #1PP) just to see how well he’d do with a mulligan. Foster did have some encouraging things on his resume when they signed him and perhaps he can find some confidence this coming season.
- Plus he’s in his walk year. And he’s also had a season to adjust. The article linked to above suggests he was putting a lot of pressure on himself, perhaps a more relaxed approach will get rid of the wooden moments.
- So you’re happy with his season? Not at all. Foster struggled all year and as one of the more established hands needed to be better. I think he’s a decent bet to have a much improved year in 11-12, certainly better than asking a rookie to perform the role.
- So you’d keep him? As a third pairing D who can help on the PP? Absolutely. 13 minutes a night at evens, no PK time and 4 minutes on the PP. I don’t think he has a high trade value, perhaps they can pluck a draft pick for him at the deadline if Foster performs well.