The Philadelphia Flyers recently stocked their roster via trade with veteran defenseman Pavel Kubina. However Kubina is a pending free agent after this season.
Kubina hasn't even played one shift but already has stated he desires to stay in Philadelphia. Granted the feelings are mutual with the organization—should the Flyers oblige?
To that I say yes, and here is why.
The Flyers find themselves in the midst of a season where their goaltending has struggled, their defensemen have been riddled with injuries, and the loss of Chris Pronger is devastating.
Now, Kubina is no Pronger, but he does have Stanley Cup winning experience, size and a booming shot. Some of the key aspects the Flyers miss in Pronger.
To fill Pronger's void the Flyers will probably have to do it through two or three players. Kubina and fellow newcomer Nick Grossman are pieces that help.
In fact it might even be the best possible solution. Consider how easily it is to lose one player to a freak occurrence in the manner Pronger was lost.
Should an injury happen to one of the defensemen, you have others who are there that still give you aspects to the defensive game.
This season the corps consisted of Kimmo Timmonen, Matt Carle, Brayden Coburn and Andrej Mezaros. The only one really capable of steadying the ship was Kimmo Timmonen.
Outside of Timmonen the rest were third or fourth defensemen trying to play extended minutes into the top one or two spots.
Not having another one or two man alongside Timmonen over-extended the others, thus we saw mistakes like turnovers, missed shooters in front of the net etc.
When the Flyers made their trip to the Stanley Cup finals in 2010, these things were not so evident. A player like Pronger keeps all these things in check in your rotation.
Now, what does this have to do with Kubina?
Like I said earlier, he is no Pronger, but being a better bottom of the order guy makes it easier on your upper pairings.
Marc-Andre Bourdon and Erik Gustafsson played terrific in their rookie debuts for the Flyers.
However they are still rookies and for whatever reason, the coaching staff felt compelled to only give them an average ice-time around 15 minutes per game.
The minimal ice-time can be a burden on the other four players especially as the season drags on.
Again this is evidenced by the frequent breakdowns by those players who were—with exception to Mezaros—absolute rocks in their own end with a healthy Pronger in 2010.
With Kubina and Grossman, you have two defensemen capable of 20 minutes a night on the ice. They aren't rookies, so that in itself instills confidence from their defensive counterparts, and know when not to get caught out of position.
The next concern with extending Kubina is cap-space. The Flyers are backed right up to it as this is written. In fact they have only $266,360 in long-term injury relief according to Cap Geek.
There are contracts like Jaromir Jagr's $3.3 million that might not be extended, which would give the Flyers the much needed room to re-sign Kubina.
Matt Carle is another pending free agent andm if he is not re-signed, that money would most likely be used to pursue pending free-agent Ryan Suter.
Perhaps not paying Suter is in the best interest for the Flyers if it means keeping a group like the Flyers have now together. That is assuming the new CBA doesn't allow an increase to the cap either.
Let's say Philadelphia allows Carle and Kubina walk. Then what? Well, you have to fill your lower pairings like you did this year with two developing defensemen and hope they don't have a major sophomore slump.
Remember Oskars Bartulis? He was once thought to be an up-and-coming defenseman too. Now he's a mere footnote in failed experiments of Flyer history.
The Flyers would be better served filling their defensive corp with the right mix of aged veterans and players hitting their prime like they have now.
Coburn, Mezaros, Carle and Grossman are all relatively young. There is no need for the Flyers to make a youth movement on the blue line. Kubina is 34 not 43, so he has plenty of hockey left in him.
Should the Flyers extend Kubina
Hal Gill is 36 and still has plenty to offer a team playing the rough, physical style he does.
Having Kubina on the team also allows the younger players to be worked in at a slower pace rather than this throw'em-to-the-wolves-style of development the Flyers have practiced.
It serves no good to throw these young players out there just to get their confidence shredded to pieces. While they're logging minutes in the AHL they can focus on what aspects of their game work for them and what don't, and then develop those skills so they're ready when their number is called.
Now that I've made my case I'd like to hear your thoughts!
Please leave questions, comments and complaints below!
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