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by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed free agent defenseman Filip Kuba to a three-year, $9 million contract, Executive Vice President and General Manager Jay Feaster announced.

Kuba, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound native of Ostrava, Czech Republic, skated in 65 games with Minnesota in 2005-06, ranking second among team defensemen in scoring with six goals and 19 assists. The 2004 NHL All-Star also led the Wild with an average of 21:46 in ice time. Kuba, 29, tallied one goal in eight games for the Czech Republic as they captured the Bronze Medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics.

"Filip Kuba is a solid, steady, top four, All-Star defenseman who has adapted well to the 'new NHL,' " Feaster said. "We believe that playing within our system will enable him to post even bigger offensive numbers and we are confident our forwards will enjoy playing with someone who is able to get them the puck quickly and help with our transition game. He is
an experienced player with size who is capable of logging a lot of minutes, and who is coming from a system in which defensive responsibility is stressed. While we were disappointed to lose Pavel Kubina today, we are excited to fill that hole with such a high caliber player."

Originally selected 192nd overall by Florida at the 1995 NHL Entry Draft, Kuba played parts of two seasons with the Panthers before being traded to Calgary and then claimed by Minnesota in the 2000 NHL Expansion Draft. He made an immediate impact for the Wild, appearing in 75 games in 2000-01 and leading the team in game-winning goals (4), power-play points (14) and ice time (24:14, also led all NHL rookies). He also ranked second on the Wild in blocked shots (136), third in assists (21), third and shots (141) and tied for third in points (9-21=30) that season.

Kuba made his first trip to Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2002-03, posting three goals and eight points in 18 games to lead all Wild defensemen in scoring as the team advanced to the Western Conference Final. He also led the Wild in playoff average ice time at 26:45. In his NHL career, Kuba has appeared in 375 games, recording 34 goals, 139 points and 163 penalty minutes.

Prior to joining the NHL, Kuba played two season for Vitkovice of the Czech Republic, and he also recorded nine goals and 48 points in 200 career games with Carolina, New Haven and Kentucky of the American Hockey League and Houston of the International Hockey League.

In addition to his Olympic appearance, Kuba skated for the Czech Republic at the 2001 and 2002 World Championships, capturing the Gold Medal in 2001.
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