OTTAWA - NOVEMBER 24: Filip Kuba #17 of the Ottawa Senators turns hard towards the corner of the rink during a game against the Dallas Stars at Scotiabank Place on November 24 2010 in Ottawa Ontario Canada. The Dallas Stars defeated the Ottawa Senators 2-1. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)
With NHL Free Agency now less than 24 hours away we continue to look at the market and try to guess what the Dallas Stars might do in terms of bringing new bodies in. Looking past the top tier we start to see some of the lesser known names more apt to be convinced to come to Dallas, and Filip Kuba, though coming off a good season in Ottawa, might fit that mold a little bit.
The big defenseman from the Czech Republic will be looking for his fifth NHL team tomorrow afternoon after parting ways with the Ottawa Senators (FLA, MIN, TB, OTT) and at 35 years of age he could be the kind of name you haven't heard much about, but that the Stars like to help fill a need while younger bodies develop in Cedar Park. Joe Nieuwendyk could be looking at several such "stop gap" acquisitions tomorrow at multiple positions.
The veteran d-man put up 32 points (6, 26) on the Senator Blue line last season, including 11 points on the power play. He's a big enough body at 6-4, 225, and he can reportedly still move his feet and get around alright at 35. He plays on the power play and the penalty kill and eats about 24 minutes a night. He led the Senators in blocked shots with 149 but he had just 53 hits in the regular season, and his lack of physicality is a pretty glaring weakness in the eyes of some Sens fans.
Kuba had a (much) better CORSI number than everyone on the Dallas blue line last season not named Alex Goligoski. He saw better than average competition and put up a +26 rating last year, though it helps to be paired with Norris Tropy winner Erik Karlsson. For that reason, and considering his MINUS 26 rating the season before last, his performance in a contract year may not be a true representation of what he'll bring to the table in a new locale at age 35 moving forward, and for that reason teams should be cautious, even though they won't be. He turns 36 in December of this year.
Pairing him with Stephane Robidas or Alex Goligoski would probably make a below average top pairing, and an old one at that with Robidas, so this may not the best option in terms of solidifying the defensive rotation next season as a solitary acquisition. Paired with another trade acquisition or signing, it could be a really solid depth move.
The dearth of good d-men on the market tomorrow means Kuba will get more looks than he might otherwise have in most other years, but it's still the kind of situation the Stars could take advantage of - An older player not looking for an outrageous salary or contract term that might be able to help for a year or two.
What say you?