“We’re making our decisions on a player-by-player and opportunity-by-opportunity basis,” Yzerman said. “We see potential opportunity to improve our club with regards to Pavel.”
Translation: Someone (maybe more than one) has expressed interest in acquiring the 34-year-old defenseman.
Because of this interest, Yzerman has asked Kubina to work within the confines of his modified no-trade clause and provide a list of teams to which he is willing to be traded. Also, not to practice or play anymore.
“In the interim, we’ve decided to protect our interest and keep Pavel off the ice until this situation is resolved,” Yzerman said. “The broader strategy is we want to be a better team in the future. We want to be a Cup contender at some point, and we’re going to have to do some things to become that.”
Kubina becoming a commodity shouldn’t come as a surprise. Many of the defensemen expected to be available at the deadline — Francois Beauchemin, Tim Gleason, Andy Sutton — have re-upped with their respective teams, meaning there are fewer options for plug-and-play blueliners at this stage of the season.
Kubina’s had an average year (3G-8A-11PTS) but is still a big, right-handed shooting defenseman that can play 20 minutes a night and has plenty of playoff experience, winning a Stanley Cup with Tampa in 2004.
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It’s going to be interesting to see if Hammond can replicate the success he had last season, when he came out of nowhere to go 20-1-2 with a 1.79 GAA and .941 save percentage, and finish seventh in Vezina voting.