Kubina's offensive stats tiny

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:26 AM ET

Pavel Kubina changed the number on the back of his sweater on Tuesday evening but there are a couple of other numbers which should be of greater concern.

The Maple Leafs defenceman is in the first season of a four-year contract that pays him $5 million US annually. Kubina has played just 10 games for Toronto because a knee injury kept him out, but has yet to find a niche and has only two assists.

Part of the issue is out of Kubina's control -- he won't get any minutes on the first power-play unit as long as Bryan McCabe and Tomas Kaberle are producing -- but he knows he is capable of more.

"I want to score more goals, but my first job is to help this team defensively," the 29-year-old Czech said. "My stats might be low. But I feel better every game. Sometimes you will go through those streaks where you don't score for 10, 15, 20 games. I've been there before."

With McCabe and Kaberle running the show, not only on power plays but at even-strength, and with Hal Gill the first defenceman over the boards to kill penalties, Kubina is averaging 19 minutes, 12 seconds. That's more than three minutes less than his average during the past seven seasons. In the year prior to the lockout, Kubina had a career-high 17 goals with Tampa Bay. He had five goals in 2005-06 but had career bests with 33 assists and 38 points.

Some argue Kubina is overpaid and others say he received what the market dictated. For coach Paul Maurice, whether the point production equals the dollars is not an issue.

"Right now he is going through what (Alex) Steen and some others are going through," Maurice said. "Our power-play numbers are awesome, and though they are capable of being on the power play, they are not getting the time.

"Because of that, people look at their numbers and say, 'Well, geez.' He is worth every penny he is getting. He is the kind of guy that you want as a long-haul, heavy-minute defenceman. As soon as he gets into his rhythm, people will appreciate the defensive side of his game."


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