As we ready for the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, the LBC crew thought it would be fun to count down the best Florida Panthers selections in club history by round. Since the draft has shrunk over the years from eleven rounds in 1993 to the current seven-round format, which began in 2005, for today's first edition, I lumped all the picks encompassing rounds eight to eleven in one hat and pulled out Filip Kuba as the best of the bunch.
Kuba was drafted in the 8th round, 192nd overall by then Florida GM Bryan Murray during the 1995 Entry Draft held at Edmonton's Rexall Place. After some time in minors, he spent parts of two seasons (totaling 18 games) with the Panthers before he was traded to the Calgary Flames on March 16, 2000. The blue-liner never suited up for the Flames, who left him unprotected in the 2000 Expansion Draft where he was snapped up by the newly-minted Minnesota Wild. Kuba played five full seasons with Minnesota, establishing himself as a fine NHL regular. In 2006, he signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning and scored a career-high 15 goals in first season with the Bolts. After one more season in Tampa, he was traded to the Ottawa Senators. In his first season there in 2008-09, Kuba established new career-highs with 37 assists and 40 points. He manned the Ottawa blue line for three more seasons, before coming full circle, returning to the Panthers as a UFA on July 1, 2012. The veteran defender played in 44 games during the lockout-shortened 2013 season, scoring a single goal and adding 9 helpers. Florida GM Dale Tallon bought out the remaining season of Kuba's contract on July 3, 2013, bringing his lengthy NHL career to an end. His finished up with totals of 836 games; 70 goals; 236 assists; 333 points; a -56 rating; and 361 PIM. The Ostrava native also represented the Czech Republic many times, including the 2006 and 2010 Olympics.
In addition to Kuba, and despite their less than stellar drafting record, the Panthers had four other players taken in the latter stages who actually made it to the bigs. So, we give an additional shout out to Tanner Glass (2003: 9-265), Ivan Majesky (2001: 9-267), Per Gustaffson (1994: 11-261) and Janis Sprukts (2000: 8-234).