Archive for June 5th, 2012

Sayonara to the Gentle Giant

- June 5th, 2012

Bryan Murray says now that the Senators are not likely to re-sign Filip Kuba.
This is not surprising. This is not a ploy. This is a sound business decision.
Teammates would like to see the big defenceman return. He’s a popular guy, they say. He’s good for the power play, they insist. He has immensely helped Erik Karlsson become the player he became, we are told.
He can be replaced, I believe. For much less money.
In a non-cap world with all sorts of money to blow, they might offer Kuba similar money or even a raise on his $3.7 million salary to secure him before he tests the free agent market. But the reality is, that’s too much coin for a guy who is coming off a six goal season that was his highest total in four years with the team.
Especially for a guy that saw so much time with his team in man-advantage situations.
The plus-52 turnaround Kuba made from a disastrous 2010-11 was impressive, and while he does make some good plays in his own zone, I still say his best defensive move all season was to pass the puck to Karlsson and allow him to skate it to safety. Over and over and over again.
Others can perfect that art, for a much cheaper wage.
Murray said at the end of Ottawa’s playoffs that he wanted to acquire a veteran, defensive defenceman. He won’t have to pay $3.7 million to get one off the free agent market, and if a Bryan Allen does cost him anything close, well, Allen can also offer some toughness to the lineup.
Kuba, who will likely get his money from another team, has none of that.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Chris Phillips could replace Kuba on the number one pairing, alongside Karlsson, and the Senators wouldn’t miss a beat. Whoever the team lands via trade or free agency might be placed without Sergei Gonchar, although I think Jared Cowen is a good fit there.
Who knows, maybe the time is now to put Cowen and Karlsson together for the first year of what should be a 15-year marriage, leaving Phillips and Gonchar as partners.
That leaves the yet-to-be-determined veteran to serve as a 5-6 guy, alongside one of rookies Patrick Wiercioch or Mark Borowiecki. And he shouldn’t be a guy that takes a $4 million bite out of your cap.
I’d also make sure Matt Carkner is brought back into the fold, either as the sixth or seventh back liner. But that’s another story.
Meanwhile, I’d be surprised if Kuba again reaches the 32-point total he did this season, when he was playing for a new contract.