The Florida Panthers signed defenseman Filip Kuba to a two-year, $8 million contract last summer and so far that has proved to be a giant mistake. Kuba had trouble fitting in with the team this season, and while he was one of the few players that managed to stay healthy for most of the season he was also one of the least productive players.
Kuba began his NHL career with the Panthers during the 1998-99 season, and went on to play for three other teams before returning. His success with the Ottawa Senators helped him land his current contract, but it’s quickly becoming clear that his success there was due more to his surroundings than his skill. At 36 years old, Kuba’s decline should hardly be a surprise, but with many talented young prospects waiting for that spot the Panthers can’t keep him around as dead weight much longer.
The Panthers got only one goals and 10 points from Kuba this season, and with T.J. Brennan, Erik Gudbranson and Dmitry Kulikov primed for bigger roles that’s hardly going to cut it. Kuba’s minus-18 rating was the third-worst mark on the team, and his 24 penalty minutes did little to help the team. He is an excellent shot-blocker, but there is little room left on the Panthers roster for a player who brings little more than that to the table. With the availability of an amnesty buyout, the Panthers may want to take a chance to correct this mistake, before it ends up hurting them for a second consecutive season.