Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini added a big body and a wicked shot to his defensive corps as the free agency season opened today, inking unrestricted free agent defenceman Kurtis Foster to a two-year deal worth $3.6 million.
In the 28-year-old Foster, get a six-foot-five, 230-pound rearguard who tallied a career-high 8-34-42 in 71 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning last season.
Foster, who overcame a badly broken left leg, suffered back in March of 2008 while with the Minnesota Wild, looks like he slots into the Oilers top four with Tom Gilbert, Ryan Whitney and Ladislav Smid ahead of newly acquired Jim Vandermeer.
Just as important, Foster is a right-handed shot who will fill the void that’s bound to be created on the Oilers power play when Tambellini unloads Sheldon Souray.
"With Edmonton’s offer and what they were putting in front of me, in regard to where they’re going as an organization, being a Canadian kid, I mean you always want to play for a Canadian organization," Foster said.
"I always remember having my Oilers jersey as a kid growing up. I couldn’t turn it down. It’s a great opportunity. I’m just real excited to be a part of the building of, hopefully, a strong franchise for a long time to come."
WHAT THEY SAY
Bob Stauffer, host of Oilers Lunch on TEAM 1260, had former Tampa Bay coach Rick Tocchet on today. Here’s what Tocchet had to say about the former Peterborough Petes defenceman.
"One of the best threats on the power play in the league," Tocchet said. "He’ll be great for the Oilers on that right shot at the top. That gives all the down-low players a lot of room.
"He had 35 or 40 points for us. I had him up at forward, actually, some games . . . for the Oilers, it’s a great move. When I heard the Oilers picked him up . . . that clean sheet of ice they have up in Edmonton, he’s going to be breaking some glass.
"The thing I like about Kurtis is he’s a really accurate guy. When we put (Steven) Stamkos and him on the point, we really became a threat on the power play. The one thing he can do is he can pass the puck. He’s got a big gun, but he can pass the puck well."
In 257 NHL games with Atlanta, Minnesota and Tampa Bay, Foster has scored 29-90-119 with 203 penalty minutes.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.