Nicolas Aube-Kubel Forcing Difficult Decision

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A name many fans are familiar with, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, is causing quite the stir as of late. Whether it’s his three points in five games, his forechecking, or defensive zone play, he’s making quite an impression. It starts to beg the question, has he earned a spot in this lineup after the injury bug stops biting?

Chuck Fletcher is tasked with either keeping NAK with the Flyers, or sending him back through waivers. While there’s always the risk of losing him to a waiver claim, he made it through earlier this year. However, this was before he averaged upwards of 12 minutes a night and posted three points in five games. Is that enough to convince another team to take a chance on NAK?

Better Options to Send Down

With Aube-Kubel close to knocking down the proverbial wall, does it make sense to keep him up with the Flyers? Realistically, it’s difficult to imagine a place in this lineup for him. With Michael Raffl and Scott Laughton due back eventually, two players seemingly need to return to Lehigh Valley. Those two players will likely be Andy Andreoff and Mikhail Vorobyev. Unless anything drastically changes, Aube-Kubel is safe from that round of cuts.

Concluding that Chris Stewart remains the 13th forward, Aube-Kubel remains in the lineup for the Flyers in that scenario. Considering he has averaged more ice time than both Andreoff and Vorobyev over the past four games, it makes sense. He’s also done more with that ice time.

Andy Andreoff has no points over the last four games, while Mikhail Vorobyev has one point, an assist. Aube-Kubel has a goal and an assist over those four games, two assists if you count the game against Winnipeg.

Andreoff has been averaging approximately eight minutes a night since getting called back up. Vorobyev is averaging about 11:15 of ice time. Aube-Kubel? He’s averaging roughly 12:51 since getting the call. More ice time, more production, the choice is easy here.

Hitting His Stride

Aube-Kubel seems to be coming into his own lately.

Reaction after the PHI/OTT game.

Look at the opportunity he has been given compared to last year. In nine games last season under Dave Hakstol, Aube-Kubel played over eight minutes one time. He posted no points while averaging 5:35 per night. It’s easy to see that NAK wasn’t given a fair shake under the Hakstol regime.

Fast forward to December of 2019, and you have Alain Vigneualt playing him for 13 minutes on his first NHL game of the season after catching a red-eye to Winnipeg. Give Aube-Kubel more time to shine, and surely he does.

It’s far from a certainty, but Aube-Kubel should remain in the Flyers lineup after Rffl and Laughton return from injury. It could return Laughton to his natural position at center, and slide Raffl back to the wing.

There are multiple ways that keeping Aube-Kubel in the NHL could benefit the Flyers. The main reason being, he’s playing like an NHL forward.

Mandatory Credit – © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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