Have The Senators Had Their “Fil” of Kuba? – In the GM Chair #4


In a season that has been stacked with disappointments for the franchise that is the Ottawa Senators, perhaps the top of that mountain is the season that has been put in by defenseman Filip Kuba.


The Czech native came to the Senators in a summer 2008 trade with Tampa Bay (along with Alex Picard and a first round pick) for Andrej Meszaros.  The deal  looked very lopsided in favor of the Senators.  They were getting a veteran, offensive defenseman who had never put up less than 24 points in any season since becoming a full time NHLer in 2000-01.

After his first season in Ottawa (2008-09), where he put up a career high 40 points, he was signed to a 3 year contract extension worth $3.7 million per season.  Last season was injury plagued but Kuba still managed to record 28 points in 53 games.  This season, like that of  many of his Ottawa teammates, has been an unmitigated disaster for Kuba.  He has not recorded a goal and only has 10 assists in 55 games so far this season, and his -29 rating is good for 869th place in the NHL (ahead of only teammates Chris Phillips and Erik Karlsson).


So the question is; with 1 year to go on a deal that pays him $3.7 million, what CAN the Senators do with Filip Kuba in the off-season?  There are basically 4 options:

1.  Keep him – The eternal optimist in you could be of the opinion that Kuba is suffering from the same thing as the rest of the team, and having an off year at the same time as too many teammates.  Given the opportunity he could bounce back to 30-40 point form.

2.  Send him to Binghamton – He is still under contract for one more year, and you could hide his salary in Binghamton, and use him as an on-ice leader to help develop the bounty of young defensemen in the Senators system.  An expensive proposition.

3.  Trade him – If you can find a taker, might be the best option.  However there isn’t much of a market for a 34 year old defenseman who appears to have lost a step and is on the downside of his career.  Bryan Murray found that out at the trade deadline.

4. Buy him out – The cost would be a cap hit of about $1.233 million per season for the next two years, as opposed to the $3.7 for next year.  He would become an unrestricted free agent and be free to sign anywhere else in the league.


The question has been asked, and the possibilities have been outlined.  So what would I do if I was the Ottawa Senators GM?

Since trading him  (Option #3) doesn’t seem to be a realistic alternative,  I would go with #4, buying the defenseman out.  With the number of rookies knocking on the door for roster spots, and the contracts already in place, there is no room for Kuba at $3.7 million, to be a 5-6-7 guy. Even if you think the bad numbers are a result of the team’s slide, he has only 4 points in the 15 games since the Craig Anderson deal (among others) seemed to turn the tide of the season.

Next year figures to be a transition year, and with Gonchar, Phillips, Karlsson, Carkner, and Lee already in the fold, there is 5 spots committed.  David Runblad and Jared Cowen both figure to make the team out of camp, so there is your 6th and 7th defensemen (in terms of numbers, not necissarily role).  Sending him to Binghamton could be an option for depth, but you would  still have to pay his full salary.  Also you would run the (slight) risk of losing him through re-entry waivers if you needed to call him up in an emergency.

I am not the one who is writing a cheque for a player NOTto play for my team, but that is what I would be proposing to Eugene Melnyk if I were GM.  With one year left on his deal, and the Senators not in any way up against the salary cap, it would even be cheaper in the long run to buy Kuba out and use a younger, cheaper replacement in his spot.


Now that you have heard what I would do, I am curious to hear what you think.  Simply click the option below to make your opinion heard.  If you want to add more, just comment below!


Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.

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