Photo credit: Amy Irvin (38Photography)
As the Flyers season moves on, the team is filled with more than a few veterans who won’t be with the team much longer. In a perfect world, older players like RJ Umberger and Vinny Lecavalier will be traded, soon Kimmo Timonen may be retired and who knows who else may be moved in the future.
This leads to the logical question: “Who’s already in the system to replace them?”
The good news is, the Flyers have actually drafted fairly well over the last couple of years and a few guys are in lower levels, developing and preparing to hopefully step in one day.
Today, we focus on Nicolas Aube-Kubel (R2, 2014) as the first prospect that we will project. Aube-Kubel plays in the QMJHL for Val d’Or Foreurs. The team itself is rather mediocre, which actually bodes well for Aube-Kubel as he might be able to snag a PTO with the AHL Lehigh Valley Phantoms near the end of the season.
Aube-Kubel is noted as scouts as a two way center, his role in the NHL projects more as a bottom six forward, he can play right wing if needed as well. Personally, given his lack of size and top end scoring, he likely will find himself on wing if he makes it to the NHL.
Now, we move onto the projections, as of now: Aube-Kubel has played 202 QMJHL games (including playoffs) and scored 54G-80A-134P. Most importantly this season he has 17G-23A-40P in 36 games.
Thanks to work done by Gabriel Desjardins, it’s actually possible to project scoring from Junior leagues to the NHL. Per this article, the QMJHL to NHL scoring rate is .28 points per game when comparing the most recent QMJHL season to the NHL. Aube-Kubel has 1.11 P/G in the Q right now, which projects to .31 P/G in the NHL or 25.51 points/82 in the NHL.
25 points isn’t bad, especially given that he’s only 18 right now and won’t turn 19 until May, after the QMJHL season ends. He’ll likely slide next season and spend another year developing in Junior before transitioning to the AHL at age 20. We might not see him until age 21 (2017-18) in the NHL and that just allows him more time to develop.
So, where does leave Aube-Kubel? Well, the answer is, as of right now, he projects as a top end third line forward.
Thanks to some research, it’s very possible to project what the scoring bracket for each forward position is. A high end third line wing is good for 23-24 points a season, Aube-Kubel projects 25-26 depending on rounding. He’d be on the high end of that position. Given the Flyers struggles with depth scoring this season, having Aube-Kubel in the wings (literally, as a 3RW) is actually promising. Given his 2-way ability, he would allow the Flyers to keep a similar dynamic with Couturier/Read and Scott Laughton/Aube-Kubel. This would allow the Flyers to ease up on the defensive minutes of Couturier without losing much in terms of defensive ability.
Aube-Kubel’s well rounded play, and depth scoring would be the secondary scoring the Flyers need going forward, however the Flyers need to be careful and not rush him. Next season, don’t be afraid to use him on the opening night roster for 9 games, especially if there is a short term injury in the forward core.
Right now, Aube-Kubel is a depth scorer with potential to move up, if the Flyers develop him right, he’s got a chance of being a solid middle six forward who plays in all situations. While future analysis will follow, Ron Hextall’s first draft could net 3 NHLers given the play of Travis Sanheim (R1) and Oskar Lindblom (R5) to go along with Aube-Kubel.