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Meltzer's Musings: Foster to KHL, Tuesday Quick Hits

July 30, 2013, 9:17 AM ET [194 Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Foster Departs for KHL

Unrestricted free agent defenseman Kurtis Foster, who spent the lockout-shortened 2013 campaign with the Flyers, was unable to find a new landing spot in the NHL. As such, he signed a contract to play in the KHL. Foster will join Croatian-based team Medvescak Zagreb. Formerly a member of the Austrian-based EBEL, Medvescak has switched circuits and will join the ever-expanding KHL starting this season.

Medvescak, coached by Mark French, will be largely comprised of import players next season. Some of the more recognizable names who have signed with the Bears include Jonathan Cheechoo, Hugh Jessiman and Matt Murley. Former Flyers/Phantoms forward Boyd Kane is also slated to join the Croatian club after captaining the Hershey Bears last season.

Foster dressed in 23 games for the Flyers last season, recording one goal, five points and 25 penalty minutes. Signed primarily for his booming slap shot, he was limited mostly to third-pairing and secondary power play duties and went long stretches as a healthy scratch. Foster recorded 21 shots on goal while averaging 1:21 per game of power play ice time and 13:04 of overall ice time.

In order to limit Foster's sometimes glaring defensive weaknesses, Peter Laviolette and Kevin McCarthy tried to get him out in the least dangerous possible shifts when he was used in five-on-five situations. Foster's quality-of-opposition advanced stats show that he was deployed against the weakest offensively weakest opposition among the seven most frequently used Flyers defensemen last season although he was not especially likely to start even-strength shifts in the offensive zone (44.2 percent, fourth among the seven defensemen).

Despite the high demand for defensemen and the player's 6-foot-5 frame, it is not particularly surprising that the well-traveled Foster was unable to find a new NHL home this summer. He is basically a power play specialist at this point of his career. He's never again been the same player he was before shattering his femur while a member of the Minnesota Wild.

Hopefully, Foster will make the most of his opportunity in the KHL and be able to prolong his career for several more years in Europe if he so desires. He played well for Tappara in Finland's SM-liiga during the lockout, despite missing time with a shoulder injury. He was also a good locker-room soldier during his post-lockout stay with the Flyers.

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Tuesday Quick Hits

* Kent Huskins, another veteran defenseman who passed through Philly last season, still remains an unrestricted free agent. The 34-year-old came over to the Flyers from Detroit largely as a favor at a time when he was basically the Red Wings' eighth defenseman and the Flyers' blueline was decimated by injuries. The Flyers essentially got the player for free, trading a conditional seventh-round pick to the Wings. The condition was that Philly re-signed the player this summer.

Although Huskins played reasonably well for the Flyers in 19 games of limited ice time before sustaining a concussion, bringing him back for next season was never a serious consideration. Given the frequency with which defensemen get injured leaguewide (especially Flyers' defensemen, it seems), there is still a shot Huskins could find a minimal contract somewhere and be stashed on an AHL roster after waivers until needed as an injury replacement.

* From August 3 to 10, Flyers prospects Anthony Stolarz (USA) and Robert Hägg (Sweden) will take part in the World Junior Championship Evaluation Camp/ Tournament in Lake Placid, New York. Hägg is a shoo-in for the starting Swedish blueline at the 2012-13 WJC in Malmö, Sweden, while Stolarz at least has a legitimate shot at cracking the roster. Also participating in the tournament is Kasperi Kapanen (Finland), the son of former Flyers forward Sami Kapanen and a potential first-round in the 2014 NHL Draft in Philadelphia.

If you want to travel to Lake Placid for the tourney, tickets are available via WhiteFaceLakePlacid.com or at the Olympic Center box office. A single-day pass, which includes admission to two games, costs $15 for adults 18 to 64 and $10 for those under age 18 or age 65 and up. An all-access pass, which includes all tournament games, goes for $70 at the adult rate and $45 for kids, students and seniors.

* Former Flyers defenseman Daniil "Danny" Markov turns 37 today. Markov, who last played in the NHL in 2007-08, is still an active player in the KHL, most recently with CSKA Moscow. A popular player among fans and teammates alike during his brief stint with the Flyers, Markov was acquired from Carolina in 2004 in exchange for forward Justin Williams. His toughness and colorful personality made him a well-liked player. He's had some off-ice issues over the years but he has always been a warrior on the ice.

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Former Flyers forward Ian Laperriere, now the organization's Director of Player Development, will be participating in the Ironman Mont-Tremblant: North American Championship on August 18. Apart from competing in the triatholon, Lappy is raising funds for a variety of charitable causes: the IRONMAN Foundation, Ronald McDonald House, the National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation and Go4theGoal Foundation- Tunes4Teens. Laperriere has set a $10,000 fundraising goal. For more information or to make a donation, click here.


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