As the object of fan and media derision last summer, Filip Kuba was without a question, an easy target for ridicule. Coming off one of the worst statistical seasons in modern team history – 2 goals, 16 points, +/- of -26 – everyone was looking forward to the day that his contract expired or the day that he was traded or waived; whichever came first. (To put in perspective how unimpressive Kuba’s season was, it compared to Darren Rumble’s 1992/93 inaugural season with the Ottawa Senators – 3 goals, 16 points, +/- of -24. Yuck.)
Far too often, we overlooked the fact that he was coming off of back surgery in 2010 and had sustained a broken leg during training camp. Unable to ever really get himself in proper shape, Kuba languished when he actually got ‘healthy’ and drew back into the lineup; which eventually caused him to lose complete confidence in his game in the process.
The outcry and lack of support for Kuba was unmistakable, the vocal majority of pitchfork and torch wielding fans wanted to see him gone. They had no concerns about the Senators getting ten cents on the dollar for him (or any cents on the dollar for him for that matter), so long as the big bodied defenceman who rarely physically imposed himself on opponents was gone.
Thankfully from an asset management perspective, management did not listen to the masses. Rather than risk losing Kuba for nothing, the organization afforded the veteran defenceman the opportunity to regain his form and recoup whatever value he once had.
As the season progressed and the team maintained its competitive status, the inclination to move Erik Karlsson’s defensive partner and the team’s shorthanded ice-time leader decreased.
As we approach this offseason, there are a number of players who share Kuba’s predicament from last year and could prove useful in the right circumstances.
Having entered training camp as the heir apparent to Jason Spezza’s vacant right wing spot, Butler aggravated his groin and had too much bravado to disclose the injury to the coaching staff. Rather than take the necessary time off to recoup and get back to 100-percent, Butler tried to play through the injury and only exacerbated matters because he feared losing his spot to an emerging prospect like Mika Zibanejad, Colin Greening or Stephane Da Costa.
After he posted a Patrick Eaves-like 10 goals and 11 assists in the latter stages of the 2010/11 season, we seemed prepared to pencil him in for 15 to 25 goals by playing alongside Ottawa’s number one center, instead his injury, bad luck (a few hit posts) and some ineffectual play forced him to the press box.
So what’s the good news?
Whether it’s the result of playing alongside Spezza for many of his shifts, Butler’s relative Corsi rating wasn’t that bad. Unlike Greening and Michalek, Butler actually helped drive possession and tilted the ice in Ottawa’s favor. Despite being a winger like Heatley, who when he isn’t scoring may not be that noticeable on the ice, but there is some underlying value that could be there.
For the second consecutive season in a row, Regin had his season derailed by a shoulder injury – the same shoulder that he had surgically repaired. When healthy, which wasn’t that often, Regin resembled the player who flourished for a limited time while playing alongside Spezza in the 2010 playoff series versus Pittsburgh. Most importantly, his two-way play had earned the trust of Paul MacLean.
While his future with the organization was clouded because of his impending RFA status and doubts about the health of his shoulder, Bryan Murray surprised many when he swiftly signed the Danish center to a one-way, one-year contract for a few hundred thousand less than he earned this season.
If Regin can regain his form and prove a useful piece, he not only could allow the organization to be more patient with its young prospects – ie. Silfverberg, Stone, and Zibanejad – he could also give the organization an intriguing trade chip as the 2012/13 season progresses.
Barring some new contract agreement, there’s no guarantee that Carkner will even remain with the organization. The impending unrestricted free agent will hit the open market on July 1st but I’d imagine there has to be some mutual interest from both parties to get a deal done.
While a recurring knee injury limited the pugilist to 29 games this past season, his skill set and popularity amongst teammates make him an ideal candidate to serve as the organization’s seventh defenceman who could draw in against teams like Toronto and Boston. (Assuming of course that the issues with his knee are resolved.) Considering the shittacular nature of this summer’s free agent crop, he should be cheap and is a familiar commodity.
Culek and Kramer sign ELCs?
According to a report on SportsJuniors.com, the Senators have inked Jakub Culek to a three-year entry level contract.
Now I’m not particularly well versed in the accuracy of its reports, the Senators organization hasn’t publically acknowledged the signing, but if you’ll recall, Pierre Dorion did say that he was traveling to watch the QJMHL Finals to watch Culek play. As a 2010 draft pick (a third rounder, 76th overall), Culek would have become an unrestricted free agent on June 1st.
Not to be outdone, Senators prospect Matt Puempel is the latest to break Senators news...
Much like Culek’s status, the Senators haven’t publically acknowledged this signing either...
"Butler’s relative Corsi rating wasn’t that bad."
Somebody should have told Paul this before games 5, 6, and 7. I don't think he realized how good Butler was when scratching him and dressing two different guys making their NHL debuts.
@MelnyksHangovers The same argument could have been made for Klinkhammer. Although his Corsi rating could have been driven by Turris and Alfie (Ottawa's best line for measured puck possession).
@Nichols6thSens By the way, my previous comment was sarcastic. Butler was a complete waste of a roster spot last season. He's going to have to improve significantly if he wants to stay in the NHL. I don't care what his corsi is. Anyone who watches the games knows he's the softest player on the team and has terrible hockey sense.
@Nichols6thSens @MelnyksHangovers at the same time, Butler was facing the 3rd easiest competition among regular forwards, unlike Greening, who faced the toughest. Although I don't like Greening in the top 6 because I feel like his greatest attribute, his defense, is best used in a bottom 6 role. I don't mind Butler coming back next year, because it reduces the risk of a prospect being rushed, who may not be much better than Butler is.
@MelnyksHangovers Sure, without the puck, he's never going to impress anyone but I just am completely ambivalent about him. Don't really care too much one way or another.
He's just a trigger guy who has to play in a top six capacity to play in this league. Is he good enough to do that?
As a collegiate free agent signing, his best quality may have been as a placeholder/depth guy who served as a stopgap until the organization's best prospects were ready to step into the lineup.