According to Damien Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman is going to decide in the near future whether the team is going to be buyers or sellers. Given that the team is 9 points out of a playoff spot, I think it’s likely that the Lightning ship off a few players prior to the deadline. According to Cristodero, the Rangers have “been linked” to defenseman Pavel Kubina and thus could be a possible landing spot for the veteran. Keep reading to see my analysis of how he might fit in and the possibility of him coming to New York.
The first obvious link between Kubina and the Rangers is John Tortorella. Torts coached Kubina in Tampa for three seasons, one of which resulted in Tampa Stanley Cup victory in 2004. Vinny Prospal, Ruslan Fedotenko, and Brad Richards have all come to play for the Rangers during Tortorella’s relatively short tenure as the team’s head coach, so the Rangers have been inclined to reunite Torts with his former players in the past.
So the familiarity Kubina has with Tortorella is nice, but what else does he bring? For one, a veteran presence, which is something our defense is absolutely deprived of. Especially in the playoffs, experience goes a long way, and with a young defense that knows very little of what a long playoff run is like that is invaluable. Kubina, measuring around 6’4 and 250 pounds – would also add size; something our blue line is deprived of (especially with Sauer out).
But I do have to wonder if Kubina is the player the Rangers need. At 34 Pavel Kubina is on the decline and far from the offensive threat he once was. And the most pressing need for the Rangers might be some powerplay help from the point. Kubina has only scored three powerplay goals in the last two and a half seasons and probably would not provide any help for our floundering powerplay.
Ultimately, the rumor passes the “smell test.” That is, it makes sense on all levels. The Lightning, pending an incredible surge in the standings, have no reason to hang onto a soon-to-be-free agent in Kubina. The Rangers wouldn’t be hurt by adding some stability to the blue-line and Kubina has a history with John Tortorella. Given that Yzerman’s demands likely won’t be high for him I would not at all complain about adding him to our lineup. However, I think the Rangers are finally in a position to make a more significant move and thus Sather needs to and will explore a more significant move. If he comes up empty, though, Kubina would be a solid plan-B.