This year was a vindication for Filip Kuba, who bounced back from consecutive injury-plagued seasons with a very impressive performance this year. He played much of the year alongside Erik Karlsson--allowing the third-year blueliner to put up Norris Trophy-calibre numbers--and was also a huge part of the team's penalty kill. He was an important complementary player on the team, and something that seemed laughable before the season began became more appealing as the year went on: The idea of re-signing the unrestricted free agent.
I was on boat with that idea for much of the second half of the season, but once the playoffs began, I jumped off and swam to shore. Kuba's a good regular season defenceman, but his post-season performance showed me that he doesn't have what it takes to succeed in the playoffs. He showed no "extra gear" once the second season began, and his lack of physicality becomes more concerning in the playoffs. I harbour no ill will towards Kuba, and appreciate his time here, but I think it's time for the Senators to move on.
If the team does move on, though, they'll need to bring in someone with experience to play top-four minutes. Luckily, in this off-season, there will be plenty of options. First and foremost are the two premiere free agent defencemen, both out of Nashville, and even though I feel silly even mentioning the minute possibility they'd sign with the Sens, it's still a possibility that one of Shea Weber or Ryan Suter could be lured to Ottawa.
Even after those two, the free agent pool remains attractive. Matt Carle will likely be the consolation prize for bidders who lose out on Weber and Suter, but if Ottawa can get in on the bidding early they may be able to get pen to paper on a reasonable deal.
Those three are blue line leaders, but there are a good number of supporting blueliners out there. I regularly return to Pavel Kubina, and I maintain that he'd be a good fit in Ottawa (despite his lacklustre playoff performance for the Philadelphia Flyers). Michal Rozsival, Dennis Wideman, and Barret Jackman could also serve well as top- or second-pairing defencemen with special-teams specialties. And there's a fourth group that would include Hal Gill, Carlo Colaiacovo, and Greg Zanon, all of whom could play meaningful minutes within the Senators' defence corps. Ideally, I'd like to see the Senators sign two of the players listed above, who would round out a D corps that already includes Karlsson, Jared Cowen, Sergei Gonchar, and Chris Phillips. Re-signing Matt Carkner as a capable seventh defender would give the Senators a strong group on the back-end.
Filip Kuba has played two good seasons with the Senators, and two pretty awful ones. He's been integral to the team's fate in the regular season (whether good or bad), but doesn't seem to have an extra gear for playoff time. He'll find interest in the free agent market, and his next team may very well be pleased with his contributions, but I think it's time for the Senators to move on from Filip Kuba and look in another direction.
Links after the jump
- Nichols published a transcript of an expansive interview with Pierre Dorion, Senators' director of player personnel. Dorion discussed drafting strategy as well as issues regarding prospects Mark Stone, Jakub Culek, and Nikita Filatov. It's a good read. (The 6th Sens)
- Amelia wrapped up her Senators Alphabet with an article on Zdeno Chara. What's next for Amelia? You'll see... and you'll like it, too. (Silver Seven)
World Championships (all numbers before today's games):
- Daniel Alfredsson: 3GP, 3P (1G, 2A)
- Kaspars Daugavins: 3GP, 2P (1G, 1A)
- Roman Wick: 3GP, 2P (1G, 1A)
- Stephane Da Costa: 3GP, 2P (2A)
- Jakob Silfverberg: 3GP, 1P (1G)
- Milan Michalek: 3GP, 1P (1A)
- Erik Karlsson: 3GP, 1P (1A)
Around the league:
- The New Jersey Devils eliminated the Philadelphia Flyers in five games last night. I wonder how far this team can go... (In Lou We Trust, Broad Street Hockey)
- Phoenix Coyotes forward and former Ottawa Senator Antoine Vermette is having a hell of a post-season. (Gazette)