Filip Kuba was acquired on July 1st as a free agent by the Florida Panthers for two seasons, 4 million dollars per year. The Florida Panthers are taking a chance on a 35 year old defenseman who has spent 13 seasons in the NHL, including his first two with the Florida Panthers back during the 1998 and 1999 season. Although his tenure with the Florida Panthers was short, he would go on to have an above average 11 years after that.
He was traded by the Florida Panthers to the Calgary Flames, but Calgary was unable to keep him due to the 2000 Expansion Draft, and was sent to the Minnesota Wild. So, before Kuba could play 20 games in the NHL, he was already a part of three organizations. Not exactly a way one wants to start his career.
Minnesota is where Kuba thrived. During his first full NHL season, Kuba played 75 games and totaled 30 points, including 21 assists. He would then spend four more seasons with Minnesota, but would unable to surpass the 30 point mark through those four years. During his tenure in Minnesota, he totaled 33 goals and 99 assists, in 357 games. He finished his career in Minnesota with the most points in franchise history for a defenseman in both goals and assists. He was named captain twice and represented the Wild in the 2004 All Star game. Certainly a respectable tenure for Kuba in Minnesota, but the Wild were unable to resign Kuba and Kuba signed as a free agent in 2006 by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
With a fresh new start and a new team, Kuba looked to take Tampa Bay by storm. In his first season with the Lightning, Kuba played very well as he recorded career highs in both goals and assists. In his first season he totaled 15 goals and 22 assists for a total of 37 points, not at all too shabby for a defenseman. He helped Tampa reach the playoffs that year, but they were unable to get past the first round, however Kuba certainly made those games count. In the 6 playoff games Tampa played that season, Kuba totaled 5 points. The following year Kuba would reach a new career high in assists with 25, while scoring 6 goals this time. He was then traded to the Ottawa Senators in 2008 where he has played for the past four seasons.
It seems like everytime Kuba gets sent to a new team, he sets career highs. In his first season with Ottawa Kuba only managed 3 goals, but had a whopping 37 assists, giving him a total of 40 points for the season, setting a career high. Kuba not only helps offensively, but his huge frame helps his ability to fender off players trying to enter the zone. Kuba isn’t a physical player but he can certainly throw the body around. Although things didn’t go as smooth as some would like in Ottawa, including failing to reach the playoffs for three consecutive seasons with Kuba, they managed to make the postseason last season largely in part to the play of Kuba and Norris Trophy winning Erik Karlsson. Kuba spent most of the season mentoring Karlsson night after night, so that’s certainly an aspect Kuba can bring to the Florida Panthers. The Senators lost in Game 7 to the New York Rangers, and that would be the last game Kuba would play for the Ottawa Senators organization.
And that leads me to now. Sorry it took so long. Filip Kuba is a player that will certainly help the Florida Panthers over the next two seasons, not only in the ice but in the locker room. Kuba is a seasoned veteran who can mentor a lot of the younger players in the process of helping the team on the ice. His big body replaces Garrisons medium sized body, and his vision on the ice will help on the powerplay. Not to mention that he has the opportunity to play alongside one of the smoothest skating defenseman in the league, Brian Campbell. This season’s Lady Byng winner will certainly bring a similar style of play Erik Karlsson has, so Kuba should mesh well with Campbell should they be paired together. For a big body, he does not shoot that much, but I’m sure his slap shot could still pack a punch. Although the J-52 Bomber is gone, the Kuban Missile has arrived. The fact that Brian Campbell is playing alongside him makes me happy. A player similar to Garrison, who had a career year with the Panthers thanks to Brian Campbell, will certainly benefit having Campbell alongside. I don’t expect Kuba to have career numbers, but I do expect him to do well. Although he is 35 years old, his 23 minutes plus of ice time a game proved that he isn’t slowing down that much.
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