Philadelphia Flyers Final Player Grades: Nicolas Aube-Kubel

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

As the resumption of the 2019-20 NHL regular season becomes increasingly unlikely by the day, we can fully evaluate individual players from the Philadelphia Flyers. Today we grade out Nicolas Aube-Kubel.

Taken in the second round of the 2014 NHL Draft, Nicolas Aube-Kubel was the first forward that the Philadelphia Flyers drafted under the Ron Hextall regime. So you have to assume that they viewed him as a piece of the puzzle down the road, a player they expected to contribute.

Fast forward half a decade, and Aube-Kubel (it’s easier to just go with NAK from this point) had failed to live up to his initial billing, getting slapped with the dreaded “organizational depth” label and looking more and more like a career minor leaguer.

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But maybe all he needed was a chance. After all, the 9-game stint he got under the Dave Hakstol-led Flyers in late 2018 was hardly a fair shake, with NAK only given 5:35 of ice time per game over those contests.

Still, current Flyers management wasn’t exactly high on him at the beginning of this season either, as they waived him near the end of the preseason despite a strong showing, sentencing him to more time with the Phantoms to start the 2019-20 campaign. To his credit, he showed enough in Lehigh Valley to convince the Flyers to call him up in December after they were hit with some injuries.

And he’s never looked back.

Aube-Kubel appeared in 36 games for the Orange and Black this season, amassing 7 goals and 8 assists in that span while giving the lower lines the kind of boost that has been conspicuously absent in Philadelphia for years. He brought a nightly energy and surprising physicality that’s quickly making the Flyers and their fans forget about the kind of drek like Dale Weise that the team had been rolling out on its bottom lines over the last few years.

NAK might have been the best surprise that the Flyers got this season, and he became increasingly reliable as the year went on. He even managed to put together a 5-game point streak during the Flyers’ hot stretch earlier this month. (Side note: How weird is it to be talking about games that were “earlier this month”? It feels like we haven’t had sports for about a year).

Aube-Kubel was a prime candidate for the Flyers’ Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy, which is given annually to the team’s most improved player as selected by his teammates. We’ll have to wait a bit to see if he ends up winning it (assuming that the team hands out awards for this season), but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it go to him.

Over the course of basically half a year, it looks like NAK has cemented himself as a fixture among the Flyers’ forward ranks, delivering on at least some of the potential that he showed when the Flyers selected him 48th overall six years ago.

RW. Philadelphia Flyers. NICOLAS AUBE-KUBEL. B-. <strong>In his first real chance to prove himself at the NHL level, Nicolas Aube-Kubel showed that he fit in nicely with what the Flyers are trying to do. It would probably be unwise to expect him to ever be more than a “bottom-six” forward, but roles like his need to be filled. If the team can rely on him to play a strong two-way game while chipping in 35-40 points per season going forward, that should be agreeable to everyone.</strong>

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