Can German Rubtsov make the Flyers roster one-year removed from season-ending injury?


How good is German Rubtsov? Well, he’s probably the best prospect in the Flyers pool fans are not talking about.

However, there’s been a lot more talk about him lately. It’s time to talk about why he’s a serious candidate to make the Flyers in 2019-2020.

After a strong start in 2018-19 and an impressive developmental camp showing over the summer, German Rubtsov is starting to get some of the attention he deserves. Come October, you might want to keep an eye on Rubtsov. He might surprise you as to the impact he could make playing in the Flyers bottom-six as a rookie. Rubtsov is a versatile player who can play all three forward positions and carries a two-way game ripe for an NHL role.

Drafted late in the first round, Rubtsov was initially thought of as a top 15 pick and was considered one of Russia’s top players available in the draft. All of that was knocked off the rails a bit after the entire Russian program was caught taking performance enhancement substances. What’s fascinating is that the performance-enhancing supplement was not against the rules in the NHL. While still legal, it definitely slightly hurt Rubtsov’s draft stock slightly and saw him fall to late in the first round.

After getting drafted by the Flyers 22nd-overall in the 2016 NHL entry draft, Rubtsov saw some ups and downs in his junior career. However, he ended it on a high note with a QMJHL championship and a CHL Memorial Cup championship. To translate, Rubtsov’s team was the best team throughout the OHL, QMJHL, and WHL. While Rubtsov wasn’t the main play driver for a stacked Acadie-Bathurst Titan team, he was the youngest forward in their top-nine. He managed to produce at nearly a point per game pace playing a penalty killing and secondary scoring role. He was contributing regularly and was a key component to winning those two championships. Rubtsov might have not played his ideal role, but he excelled in the role he was placed into. Flyers brass must have been somewhat disappointed to not see him play a top-six role, but ultimately it might pay off for his NHL career.

2016-17Podolsk VityazKHL150006-4
2016-17Chicoutimi SagueneensQMJHL1691322411
2017-18Chicoutimi SagueneensQMJHL11381101
2017-18Acadie-Bathurst TitanQMJHL3812203211619551011
2018-19Lehigh Valley PhantomsAHL14641003

Rubtsov might not be a flashy player, but he doesn’t have to be. He’s the type of player who makes simple two-way plays look easy and knows how to be the center of attraction in order to draw the play. However, Rubtsov must be aggressive to be successful in the NHL. While he’s not a physically dominating player, it’s his smart forechecking and anticipation that makes him stick out from the crowd.  He knows how to own the middle of the ice in the offensive zone and is rarely caught without his stick in the right position. He might not be as polished and well established as Mike Richards, but he has a lot of the same elements that made Richards successful. With the Flyers bottom tier penalty kill over the past several years, a young guy like Rubtsov might be exactly what the team needs to fill in the gaps in the immediate bottom-six. Rubtsov has a shooting and playmaking element that a player like Scott Laughton did not have entering the league.

In his first year at the pro level, Rubtsov saw his season cut very short. However, prior to his injury he was quickly climbing to the top of the depth chart for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and had six goals and four assists in 14 games. Those kinds of numbers for a foreign player with limited English is something to take seriously. There is usually an adjustment period for young players, but German seems to be elevating his game to another level and showing why he was such a popular Russian prospect.

I believe, that if it were not for his season-ending injury in the early stages of 2018-2019 he would have made his way into some NHL games as the Flyers searched for bottom-six forwards. A two-way playmaking center, Rubtsov is a player who’s perfect for the third line in his youth and a top player middle-six forward in his prime. I expect Rubtsov to stick out from his rookie camp counterparts in more ways than just the scoring sheet. For a Flyers team that has openings in the bottom-six, he might be the most fitting addition come October 2019.

Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports