Filip Kuba had a disastrous 2010-11 season that had many people, (myself included) calling for the Sens to buy him out of the last year of his contract. Murray didn’t heed the advice, and his insistence that Kuba was still a top 4 defenseman was second-guessed all around.
Kuba was a steadying force on the blue line all season, and his influence was a large factor in the emergence of Erik Karlsson as an elite defenseman in the NHL. He kind of sat in the shadows and allowed his partner to blossom. After finishing with a -26 rating the previous season (6th worse in the league), he bounced back to post a +26 rating this season (9th in the NHL and 3rd best for a player not on the Boston Bruins.)
Some would argue that he didn’t help Karlsson, but that he rode the youngsters’ coattails to have success this season. His performance as a Senator seems to swing up when he is in a contract year, as his two good seasons in Ottawa both came in the final year of an existing deal.
Kuba doubled his point production from the previous season (16 to 32 points) as well as the above mentioned swing in +/- rating.
With such low expectations heading into the season, Kuba pretty much had nowhere to go but up. So, for the 2011-12 season, the grade I award Filip Kuba is: