FREE AGENT PREVIEW: PAVEL KUBINA

Attempting to think like Dean Lombardi has its side effects – never accepting an initial offer for anything (which drives the better half crazy), stating in 22 words what can be said in 5 while saying nothing, maintaining a poker face at all times, and having the luxury of being the smartest man in the room. I wouldn’t suggest trying it. Surly and I are, after all, professionals.

So, if you’re Dean Lombardi or, should I write, I am Dean Lombardi, which under the radar player am I likely to pick up that will help the team? Say hello to defenseman, Pavel Kubina.

6’4″, 250 pounds. 33 years old. Not a great but not a bad skater. Put him slightly better than Matt Greene in that respect. Good shot. He has a definite offensive upside with 40-40-38 points in the past three seasons, most of them 5 on 5. Kubina averages over 20 minutes per game. He won the Stanley Cup in 2004 with Tampa Bay and has been relegated since then on a bad Tampa team, a worse Toronto team and a Kovalchuk-less Atlanta team. His game appears to be improving. While generally not known for his defensive ability, Pavel actually came into his own this past season. He finished with an even plus-minus rating on a pretty schmeh Atlanta team that isn’t known for playing defense. Kubina is not a bruiser but he can hit. He uses his size well in both zones and brings a shot blocking element of which a team cannot have enough.

Here is the bad news – he made $5M this past season. Good news though is that nobody is going to pay him that in the offseason. Pavel is a $3.5M per year player and for that price, he would fill that need we have in the top 4 defense (as you may know, I consider Greene for whom I have maximum love a #5 or #6 guy on a contending team). So, do we get Pavel? Is he sufficiently under the radar for Dean to snap him up? Is he affordable? Will the smile on my face from Vancouver’s implosion and imminent elimination eventually wear off? Soon, all will be certain.



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