Between now and July 1, The Detroit Sports Site’s writers will break down 10 of the NHL’s potential unrestricted free agents and try to determine if any of those players are a fit for the Red Wings. Previously: Ryan Smyth, Ray Whitney and Dennis Wideman.
Filip Kuba is not Plan A for the Detroit Red Wings as they attempt to fill some holes on their blue line. The 35-year-old probably isn’t Plan B, either. But if the Wings strike out on Ryan Suter and can’t land, say, Justin Schultz or Matt Carle, would Kuba make a nice consolation prize?
Kuba spent the past four seasons in Ottawa. He had six goals, 26 points and was a plus-26 last year, though that plus-minus rating was the exact opposite of his 2010-11 mark, when he finished minus-26. However, the 6-foot-4, 224-pounder has averaged at least 20 minutes per game for the past dozen seasons.
Kuba is up there in years — he has 13 seasons under his belt — but he’s a decent puck-moving defenseman, and Ottawa used him in all situations.
How would he fit with the Wings’ defense?
Andrew Tomlinson: Kuba has kicked around the league a little bit in his career, and for good reason, despite last season’s plus-26 rating — he is usually very far on the wrong side of that set of stats for his career. Sometimes, it is hard to look at a player’s plus-minus and get a fair reading on him, unless he is a very negative player along the blue line. Kuba isn’t going to change as a player and despite blocking almost 150-shots last year, he isn’t someone Detroit should take a big risk on. Maybe for a cheap couple-of-years deal, he would be worth it, but Kuba isn’t going to be a top pairing d-man. The Wings should pay him accordingly, if they take a chance.
Chris Burke: There are a couple of scenarios potentially in play here that could bring a guy like Kuba to Detroit. In the first, the Wings land one of the elite defensemen and decide Kuba is a better option than either Kyle Quincey or Jakub Kindl. In the second, Detroit whiffs on the top-tier guys and tries to round out the defensive depth chart with a player of Kuba’s caliber — but that plan only works if Detroit is comfortable expecting Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson and Ian White to lock down the top three spots. I actually like the prospect of adding a guy like Kuba. He might be able to do some of the things Brad Stuart did, but he’s not going to put this team over the top.
Rob Starrs: Filip Kuba is a solid, veteran defensmen. He is coming off a career-high plus-26 rating and is generally viewed as just a reliable blue liner. Detroit needs the most help on the back end, so I would have to say the Wings need to take a long hard look at every possible option there, whether it’s a trade or a free-agent pickup like Kuba.
Max DeMara: If the Red Wings choose to add a veteran defenseman, Kuba would be the best option instead of Joe Corvo. Kuba would provide a stable, wise presence on the back end and is generally a responsible defender. Should he be a first, second or third option this offseason? Certainly not. Still, if Ken Holland covets a rugged veteran defender who has plenty of experience to fall back on, there may be nobody better to call than Kuba.