Potential UFA target: Filip KubaJune 14, 2012, by
Depending on how the next few weeks play out one option to bolster the Rangers blueline may be Filip Kuba, at present an Ottawa Senator. Depending on your opinion, Kuba is a great example of the ever-thinning free agent class this summer. With guys like Brad Stuart heading out West, Dennis Wideman unlikely to reach free agency, and Jaro Spacek and Pavel Kubina not making for appealing candidates, Kuba is one of the bigger blueline names likely to hit free agency.
Kuba doesn’t play physical, despite possessing great size (6’4, 225lbs) and his 53 regular season hits in 73 games indicate. He is unlikely to return to the Senators due to his (likely) reluctance to take a pay cut from the $3.7m he earned this season. The Senators have plenty of offensive blueline talent in veteran Sergei Gonchar and young superstar Erik Karlsson, so they can afford to play hardball with Kuba – hence the apparent likelihood of Kuba’s departure from Ottawa.
Kuba has some offensive talent, but has never displayed it consistently in the NHL. In the past six seasons Kuba has put up 37, 31, 40, 28, 16 and most recently 32 points primarily with Ottawa, but the first of those two years were with Tampa. Kuba’s production is likely linked to playing big minutes, something he’d unlikely get in New York. His 32 points this year came after logging over 23 minutes per game.
While Kuba is a solid puck mover the Rangers greater need is a shooter from the blueline and Kuba isn’t the kind of player who blasts away from the point. This year he had just 78 shots, scoring 6 goals. Kuba did however have a bounce-back season this year. Following a dismal campaign last year (minus 26 rating, 16 points, 2 goals on 76 shots), Kuba produced a +26 rating and the aforementioned 32 points. Given that he is 35, Kuba proved with his 2011/12 season that age isn’t a particular concern when considering his production.
Kuba will only be a legitimate option for the Rangers if several things occur prior to July 1st. Firstly, the Rangers miss out on potential free agent prize Justin Schultz. Secondly, if the club feels Tim Erixon isn’t ready to help the Rangers to begin next season. Finally, only if Kuba’s contractual demands are less than his current salary. All of these things make Kuba a potential, but perhaps unlikely free agent target.