Image via Wikimedia Commons, released into public domain.
The most tenured defenseman in Tmampa Bay Lightning history is making a return engagement to the Lightning.
He departed the Lightning in 2006 via unrestricted free agency, and then was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers in a multi-player deal last season. You've seen him patrolling the blue line for the Thrash in our six meetings (well, wait, five? The ones that actually were televised, at least) with them this season.
But Kubina returning to Tampa does not just need to wax of nostalgia for those who think of his first tenure with the Lightning (1997-2006). No, the first thing to realize is that Kubina fills a need that was vacated by Kurtis Foster yesterday: A right handed defensive shot on the power play. And for all the love that we have of Kurtis Foster, Kubina is a marked upgrade on defense over Foster....
Kubina had six goals, 32 assists and 38 points in 72 games last season, comparable to Fosters own numbers (8 goals, 34 assists in 71 games). He was also an even Plus / Minus, while Foster was a -5.
The Right-handedness of their shot is why I even compared the two players. Kubina is a upper-pair defenseman while Foster was a 6th or 7th defenseman at best. Time on Ice for both players reflects this as Kubina has 22:37 average time on ice per game. Foster was just over 17 minutes of time on ice, seventh on the team among defensemen.
The official press release is below the jump, and the Lined-Up Update has been updated to reflect the signing.
LIGHTNING INK DEFENSEMAN PAVEL KUBINA
2004 Stanley Cup Champion Returns to Tampa Bay
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning signed defenseman Pavel Kubina to a two -year contract today, Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced. The deal brings Kubina back to where he won the 2004 Stanley Cup with the Lightning.
"We are pleased to bring Pavel back to the Lightning organization," Yzerman said. "He is a big, physical defenseman who will play the point on the power play. He was well-liked by his teammates during his previous time here in Tampa Bay and we’re happy to welcome him back. I know Pavel had other options and I would like to thank him for deciding to rejoin us."
"I talked to Steve yesterday and I was very impressed with the direction he’s going in with the team," Kubina said. "I always wanted to come home. Other than Czech, Tampa Bay is my second home. I still have my house there and even though I had other offers on the table, I couldn’t pass this up. I’m looking forward to playing with Vinny and Marty again as well as with the younger guys like Stamkos and Hedman."
Kubina, 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, has played in 822 career NHL games with Tampa Bay, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Atlanta Thrashers. He has amassed 103 goals, 53 power-play goals, 25 game-winning goals, five shorthanded goals and 348 points during that time. Kubina began his career with the Lightning in 1997-98 and went on to play eight seasons with the Bolts, including the 2004 NHL All-Star Game.
Kubina has posted some of his best numbers in the previous three seasons. In 2007-08 and 2008-09 he set career highs for points with 40 while also notching a career best for power-play goals with nine in 2008-09. Kubina also reached double digits in goals in two of the previous three seasons while also earning a plus or even rating in three of the previous four.
A native of Celadna, Czech Republic, Kubina has played in 531 games with Tampa Bay, posting 65 goals, 209 points, 32 power-play goals and 15 game-winning goals. He is a mainstay on the majority of the Lightning’s all-time franchise lists, ranking second overall in penalty minutes, fourth in games played, eighth in assists and power-play goals, and ninth in points. Kubina is the franchise’s all-time leader among defensemen in games played, power-play goals and penalty minutes.
Still listed as his most memorable hockey moment, Kubina played in 22 games during the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs, helping the Lightning to their first Stanley Cup Championship. In 38 career postseason games, all with Tampa Bay, Kubina has recorded a goal and six points.
Last season Kubina played in 76 games with Atlanta, recording six goals and 38 points with an even rating. His 32 assists and 38 points were both the second-highest totals of his career. Kubina led the Thrashers in average ice time with 22:37, was fifth in assists and sixth in points. He was second on the team among defensemen in goals, assists, points and power-play goals. Kubina was the only Atlanta blue-liner to net a game-winning goal.
Kubina has had his share of international success as well, representing the Czech Republic on eight occasions. He is a veteran of two Olympic Games (2002, 2006), four IIHF World Championships (1999, 2001, 2002, 2005) as well as the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and the 1995 World Junior Championships.