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Panthers defenseman Filip Kuba Joins Czech League's Vitkovice Steel

Summer free agent signee latest in short list of Cats to commit in Europe

Phillip MacCallum

Florida Panthers blueliner Filip Kuba (above in 2011) signed a standard lockout deal with HC Vitkovice of the Czech Republic's Tipsport Extraliga on Friday, per the club's official site.

Kuba, 35, previously played a handful of games for the organization between 1994 and '96, which wrapped around his drafting by Florida in 1995 (8th round/192). The 6'-4" native of Ostrava went on to appear in 18 contests with the Panthers before being dealt to Calgary in exchange for brawler Rocky Thompson on March 16, 2000. Yes: a one-for-one transaction.

He went on to collect a total of 323 points (69G) over 792 NHL games with the Cats, Minnesota Wild, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Ottawa Senators. As an unrestricted free agent, Kuba inked a two-year deal with Florida on July 1 of this year worth $8M over the term with a reported cap hit of $4M per season. He is the presumptive heir apparent to departed blueliner Jason Garrison as a bumper crop of young defensive talent matures in San Antonio.