While Wayne Scanlan's reporting (and podcast appearence with Graeme and Creech) had pegged the possibiltiy as "unlikely". In a blog post last Friday Pierre Lebrun seemed to suggest the Senators hadn't completely closed the door on bringing Kuba back next season:
Senators GM Bryan Murray told ESPN.com on Friday that he has touched base with Filip Kuba's camp (including agent Richard Evans) and hopes to do so again in a week or so.
Kuba played most of the season alongside offensive machine Erik Karlsson in Ottawa and is set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
"We're interested in keeping him, but obviously it has to make sense for us financially," Murray said.
Kuba, 35, just finished a three-year deal that paid him $3.7 million per season. My guess is that Ottawa would want him back for south of that figure.This could just be the Senators creating leverage - or doing a courtesy by talking to Kuba's people. I"m not sure. But if the organization is thinking of bringing Kuba back, what exactly are they investing in?
The following graphic is borrowed from a Rob Vollman piece that ran last week on nhlnumbers.com comparing the league's top-pairing defenseman. I urge you all to check it out:
While it's true that Kuba and Karlsson faced the toughest defensive assignments on the Senators...relative to the rest of the league's top-pairing defenseman they faced among the easiest minutes. Favourable zone-starts and below average quality of competition (for top-pairing d-men) was a diet Karlsson feasted on. Kuba did not fare as well, nevermind being paired with one of the league's best play drivers for 88% of his even-strength minutes. You'll notice that some players above are surrounded by blue bubbles (good) and others white (bad), these are markers of possession - positive and negative. The fact #17 was giving up more shots at evens despite these advantages should be concerning.
Seperating Kuba and Karlsson lays bare just what an anchor the former was - this table compares the percentage of play (corsi) Kuba controlled 5on5 with and without EK.
That is not good.
Just for comparison's sake when Karlsson was seperated from Kuba the Senators had 58.8% of corsi events.
I've seen many (fans and media) argue that Kuba's steadiying veteran presence was instrumental to Karlsson's success this season...ergo the Sens must bring him back. In reality it's the other way around, Kuba better hope the Sens re-sign him as Karlsson is keeping him afloat.
For these reasons I'd hope the Senators exhaust all other options before re-upping a 35-year-old (going on 36 in December) Kuba to play top-pairing minutes.
Malcolm Subban Works Out With The Sens
After hearing Pierre Dorion on multiple occasions state that drafting a goaltender is something that is "done for need", I'm not too concerned the organization is going to take one with their first rounder this year. Nevertheless Malcolm Subban was on the ice in Kanata today:
Eric T over at BroadStreetHockey has started to publish his multi-part anaylysis of the Flyers zone entries this past season. It's interesting stuff to say the least:
One exception to the above is Wayne Simmonds, who was by far the least effective of the top 9 forwards at retaining possession of the puck, yet was the second-most involved. It may not be fair to Simmonds -- perhaps the team asked him to do this or the passes he was fed led to it -- but I picture the guy in your pick-up basketball game who jacks it up from the outside every time he gets the ball. He was on a line with Briere for most of the year, and for whatever reason, Briere ended up with much fewer zone entries than comparable performers (Voracek, Giroux) and Simmonds ended up with a lot more than he should have.
If what we are seeing in the UFA market is true his rights might have trade value for a bottom pick.