Kurtis Foster had a terrible season. Jonathan Willis wrote about it being the worst offensive season of his career and it may well have also been the worst defensive season of his career too. When the Oilers signed Foster a year ago, I thought that the signing was solid for a guy who could help on the power play, play bottom pairing minutes well, and potentially play well enough to be a reasonable option in the top four. Things didn't work out that way. He struggled on the power play (along with the rest of the Oilers), and looked overmatched playing on the third pairing, nevermind the second. So today, the Oilers traded Foster to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Andy Sutton. Sutton is more expensive ($2.25M compared to $1.8M in real dollars), but is he really any better?
In his prime, Andy Sutton was a player who could play solid minutes on your bottom pairing, and play in your top four in a pinch, but at thirty-six years old, Andy Sutton is no longer in his prime. Last season, he played in just 39 games for the Anaheim Ducks. He missed 21 games because of a thumb injury, but there were plenty of other nights when Sutton was a healthy scratch, and when he was in the lineup, he didn't play much, averaging just 12:23 per game at even strength, more than a minute less than guys like Andreas Lilja and Luca Sbisa.
So what did he do with those limited minutes? Like all of the bottom-pairing defensemen, Randy Carlyle tried to protect Sutton at evens, but the results weren't pretty. Sutton had 53.3% of his end-zone starts in the offensive zone, but had 45.4% of his end-zone stops in the offensive zone. His Corsi of -18.74 per sixty minutes was the second worst among the team's defenders, and much worse than any of Edmonton's regular defenders with the exception of Jason Strudwick. When Andy Sutton was on the ice, the puck was going the wrong way.
Of course, that's not why the Oilers acquired him. They acquired him because he hits people. He hits people like Fernando Pisani, people like Shawn Horcoff (no video = me sad), and people like J-F Jacques (time to argue about this play again, Bruce!), all of whom ended up out of the lineup after their run-ins with the 6'6'' 245 lb. defenseman. So there you have it! He's an old run-down version of what we hope Theo Peckham might one day become (and interestingly, those two will likely be competing with one another to stay in the lineup). To be perfectly frank, I think I'd rather have bet on a bounce-back year from the much younger and less expensive Foster.