As Erik Karlsson was putting together a season for the ages last year, his defense partner was Filip Kuba, who was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. I was among those who thought that Bryan Murray might want to consider signing Kuba, who seemed like a security blanket for Karlsson as he was winning the Norris Trophy. How would Karlsson react to a new partner, who might not mesh so well with the league’s best defenseman and his style of play?
Well, as it turns out, it looks like it was Karlsson that was carrying Kuba on his back, not the other way around. Kuba has been terrible in Florida this season, with just 3 assists and a -10 rating (tied for the worst in the league) through just 17 games.
Kuba has shuffled his way from a top end pairing with Brian Campbell, right out of the lineup as an apparent healthy scratch on Sunday afternoon as the Panthers take on the Bruins.
It could also have something to do with the fact that Kuba only seems to step it up in a contract season. Either way, we can finally put the final nail in the coffin of the question as to whether or not Karlsson’s success had a lot to do with Kuba’s influence. Karlsson’s award was his and his alone. And he proved that this season with the seamless transition to playing with Marc Methot, who has made his own mark (no pun intended) in Ottawa, but that is an entirely different story for a different time.