The Worst Offensive Season of Kurtis Foster’s Career

Jonathan Willis
June 13 2011 02:03PM

Kurtis Foster did not get rave reviews for his play in 2010-11. He slid down the depth chart, falling behind rookies and castoffs like Theo Peckham, Jeff Petry and Jim Vandermeer in terms of ice-time. Even that overstates the case; in terms of even-strength ice-time Foster was used just a little more than Taylor Chorney and Jason Strudwick on a per-game basis.

Does this past season reflect Foster’s real value? I have some doubts.

Hockey commentary and analysis tends to emphasize recent results over prior history. It’s the reason a player like Andrew Cogliano gets just barely more than half the money that Gilbert Brule gets despite the fact that career-wise the former has been more impressive than the latter.

I’m not sure that this uneven weighting toward recent results always gives us the best picture of what a player is going to be like going forward. I’ve always operated under the assumption that it’s better to defer to a long-term track record than a single season sample, unless there is a reason (such as serious injury) to believe a player has significantly declined in a short period of time.

That’s why I still think that Kurtis Foster could play a valuable role, either for the Edmonton Oilers or for another club if they opt to trade him. His track record is significantly better than his results in 2010-11.

Foster’s Offensive Track Record

Season EV TOI PP TOI EV PTS PP PTS EVPTS/60 PPPTS/60
2005-06 717.93 327.55 10 18 0.84 3.30
2006-07 760.08 213.37 10 13 0.79 3.66
2007-08 735.4 146.32 9 10 0.73 4.10
2008-09 108.98 18.22 4 2 2.20 6.59
2009-10 931.35 273.33 16 26 1.03 5.71
2005-10 3253.74 978.79 49 69 0.90 4.23
2010-11 1010.7 284.45 8 14 0.47 2.95
% Difference         -52.0% -30.3%

The chart above shows a staggering drop in Foster’s offensive performance this season. His performance last season was a more than 50% drop-off from his average output over the preceding five seasons, and his power play offense dropped off by nearly one-third. While we might look at the power play number and chalk it up to the Oilers’ anaemic special teams, there is no similarly easy explanation for the drop in even-strength offense. Not only were the majority of Foster’s numbers recorded with the ultra-defensive Minnesota Wild, but he was given a lot of offensive zone starts this year with Edmonton.

Similarly, we can’t blame the decline in offense on Foster’s catastrophic injury in 2008-09, given that 2009-10 was the best offensive season of his career.

Obviously, offense isn’t the only part of Foster’s game that deserves scrutiny. He was at times problematic defensively this season, but I suspect teams will forgive that if he can provide above-average scoring punch on the power play and at even-strength.

Can Foster rebound? It’s difficult to know without understanding exactly why he struggled this season, but his career to date suggests that he is a much better offensive player than he showed this season, and I would guess that we will see a big spike in his scoring next season.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 Robin Brownlee
June 15 2011, 07:10PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

"Can Foster rebound? It’s difficult to know without understanding exactly why he struggled this season . . ."

It's difficult to understand why Foster struggled this season? A statistical breakdown of a player who endured the death of a child last off-season?

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