The Florida Panthers had the right idea when they drafted Filip Kuba in the 8th round of the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. His initial time in South Florida was short but now after a 13 year sojourn in the NHL Kuba is back in where he began.
The Panthers originally traded Kuba to the Calgary Flames in 2000 but before the season began the Wild snagged Kuba in the 2000 Expansion Draft. I'm sure the Wild are glad they grabbed him because his first season with the team Kuba scored a career high 30 points. His production with the Wild was fairly consistent. During his five seasons in Minnesota Kuba was elected to the NHL All-Star Game in 2003-04 and established himself as a first line NHL defenseman.
The Blots signed Kuba as an unrestricted free-agent before the 2006-07 season. Like his first season in Minnesota, Kuba put up career high numbers during his first season with the Lightning. In the 2006-07 season the veteran defenseman notched 37 points and skated in 81 games. To show it wasn't a fluke Kuba put up 31 points in 75 games for the Bolts the next season.
Kuba found himself packing his bags for Ottawa in 2008 when the Bolts sent him as part of a package trade for Andrej Meszaros. The Sens got a good deal because once again Kuba put up career high numbers during his first season in Ottawa. In the 2008-09 season Kuba put up 40 points in only 71 games. The good times didn't last too long in Ottawa. After his first season Kuba began to be hit by the injury bug. In the 2009-10 season Kuba only played 53 games and the following year he only skated in 64. However, Kuba came back healthy and played a full season with the Sens in 2011-12 and proved that he was back in form by notching 32 points.
Kuba kept his frequent flyer miles current during his career by remaining active with the Czech Republic National team. Kuba obviously isn't the kind of guy who forgets his roots. He has been a fixture on the Czech Republic's World Championship team for the last twelve years. During the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver Kuba helped lead the Czech team to a bronze medal.
Kuba was signed this offseason by the Cats in order to bolster the team's defensive ranks. There's a good chance that he may start next season on the first line alongside Brian Campbell. If Kuba stays true to his tradition of having a career year his first season with a new team, Panthers fans will have something to cheer about. I realistically don't expect Kuba to put up 45 points next season but he's should be a good fit in South Florida; the place where it all started.
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Kristian Eberwein is a freelance journalist from Orlando, Florida. He was an English major at the University of Central Florida and has been a part of the Florida hockey community for the past twenty years. Follow him on Twitter @KrisEberwein