Getting to know Nicolas Aube-Kubel, the Flyers' 2014 2nd round draft pick

wait why is it so dark in here - Jeff Zelevansky

Nicolas Aube-Kubel, the Flyers' second-round draft pick this year, has a lot of questions surrounding him and exactly how good he could be in the NHL. But he shows a lot of potential.

We'll continue going through profiles of each of the Flyers' draft picks. Today we continue with their second-round draft pick from 2014, Canadian winger Nicolas Aube-Kubel.

Background

Date of Birth: May 10, 1996
Primary Team, 2013-14: Val-d'or Foreurs, QMJHL
Nationality: Canadian (Slave Lake, AB)
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 187

Statistical Profile

Estimated TOI/60 GF% GF% Rel Estimated QoC TOI% Estimated P/60 (total) Estimated P/60 (ES)
15.0 (59) 53.6% (61) - 6.1% (137) 28.4% (105) 3.3 (20) 2.8 (13)

(Numbers in parentheses are ranks in said statistic among all 213 draft-eligible CHL forwards for the 2013-14 season. All numbers in the table above via Extra Skater.)

Rankings and Opinions

ISS: 73 (29th among left- and right-wingers combined)

Skill: Tremendous hockey IQ and compete level. Plays a great energy game and is a ferocious competitor.

Scouting Report: Aube-Kubel had a solid development year; he played well all year in a second line role with a deep Val d'Or team. He played in all situation including first Penalty Kill and second Power Play. He showed improvement in both his overall game and strength and conditioning with every viewing. He finished with respectable offensive numbers in the regular season, but where he shines is in his defensive awareness and play along the boards. In the Play-off Series against Halifax he did a good job against the top line including Jonathan Drouin and top ranked QMJHL Prospect Nikolaj Ehlers limiting their offensive chances. He is a very good skater with good speed and strength on his skates.

ISS Scout C.Mooring: "Very good skater with outstanding compete level along with a very good understanding of the game".

ISS Scout M.Meagher: "Above-average skater however lacks breakaway speed. Responsible defensively, no fun to play against and he has an offensive upside".

NHL Potential: Bottom six energy guy and defensive forward.

McKeen's: 57 (22nd among wingers)

Helped Val d’or capture their third franchise President Cup en route to a heartbreaking triple OT Memorial Cup semi final loss to Edmonton .. stock has climbed considerably since the onset of the playoffs where Aube-Kubel flourished as a complementary secondary scorer contributing 13 points in 24 games (24-4-9-13) .. an elite skater, shifty, using his inside edges well to dangle past players and cut into open ice .. relatively lean he should only improve with added size and strength bringing forth a solid work ethic and strong compete level .. not afraid to get his nose dirty playing with intensity all season willingly hurling his body into traffic areas and high contact zones .. not blessed with an abundance of creativity, he understands the importance of making quick and effective plays which aids in his ability to produce points but does not always utilize his time and space well .. Aube-Kubel was the leading scorer for Team Quebec at the World U17 Challenge in 2012-13 and nearly doubled each offensive statistic this season over his rookie year .. given his work ethic and offensive fortitude he has the attributes to develop into a top nine NHL’er if he grows physically.

Central Scouting Services: 40 (18th among wingers)

Bob McKenzie, TSN: 55 (22nd among wingers)

Craig Button, TSN: 87 (rank among wingers unknown)

Has an offensive flair to his game and with his skating, stick handling, shot and confidence, he is not only capable of making things happen, he does so with a positive attitude and approach that screams; "I can do this."

Corey Pronman, ESPN (Insider, $): 79 (27th among wingers)

Aube-Kubel was a top pick in the 2012 QMJHL draft that has played well, but still has more potential than what he's shown so far. He's a really gifted puck handler who on his best game creates chances out of nothing and can be dangerous in open ice. He's not a fantastic skater, but he has a fine top gear and good agility. He also has an impressive shot. Aube-Kubel isn't the best off the puck though, as he can struggle a bit with his reads on both ends. The majority view is that his defensive play and consistency are both knocks on his game, although one scout I talked to did praise his defense.

Todd Cordell over at The Hockey Guys wrote up a profile of Aube-Kubel pre-draft. He had him projected as a third-rounder but had lots of nice things to say regardless (these are just snippets; click through to read the whole thing):

Strengths - Nicolas Aube-Kubel is one of my favorite sleeper picks in this draft class. He's a good skater who has a high top speed. He's elusive with the puck, and once he accelerates he has the ability to blow by defenders and create off the rush. Aube-Kubel is great in the neutral zone, as he gains top speed while carrying the puck up ice and is tough to stop when he gets going. Aube-Kubel is excellent entering the zone, as he regularly gains the opposing line with possession of the puck. Defensively Aube-Kubel is tough to beat in the neutral zone.

Weaknesses - While Aube-Kubel has great speed, puck skills and is pretty sound defensively, he can be prone to turning the puck over at times. Aube-Kubel likes to make things happen and uses his creativity to try fancy plays, but they don't always work, and at times it hurts his team.

Summary

While everyone agrees that Aube-Kubel has some level of skill, there does seem to be a fair bit of disagreement within the above scouting reports in regards to his specific skills. Consider:

  • His overall rankings ranged anywhere from 40 to 87, putting him anywhere between the early-mid second round and late third round.
  • Terms/phrases used to describe his speed and/or skating include "great", "very good", "not fantastic [but] fine", and "elite".
  • He's got a "tremendous compete level" but there are also questions about his consistency.
  • One report says that he is "not blessed with an abundance of creativity", while another says that at his best he can "create chances out of nothing".
  • In one report, he "shines in his defensive awareness" and is "responsible defensively"; in another his defensive play is a "knock on his game"; and in another still he's "pretty sound defensively".
  • His projection ranges from "bottom-six energy/defensive forward" to "has the attributes to develop into a top-9 forward" to "top-6 forward who can drive possession and play in all situations".

So what exactly does all of this mean? Well, the fact that people have seen all of these good things in him has to be a good sign. If we're to believe what's written above, Aube-Kubel has shown some proficiency in almost everything that he needs to in order to be a successful player. Of course, we're also led to believe that he's shown enough to cause scouts to hesitate to say that he's going to be a solid contributor. Take the good and take the bad, I guess.

Aube-Kubel's got some work to do ... but the tools and potential pretty clearly are there.

But even if there's disagreement in where exactly Aube-Kubel is in his development, how high his ceiling is, and how likely it is he'll reach it, it's clear there's some talent there -- and we've seen the results, too. When normalized for ice time, his scoring numbers are quite impressive when compared to his 2014-eligible peers. That's while playing in second-line minutes for a very good Val-d'Or team this past year, and chances are his role will only grow this year.

Aube-Kubel's got some work to do, and he'll likely look to add a few more pounds on to his relatively small frame over the next couple of years. He's a project forward, and what the final vision of that project looks like is anyone's guess. But the tools and potential pretty clearly are there.

Fit with the Flyers

When I first read the reports out there about Aube-Kubel, I thought of a faster version of current Flyers system tweener Jason Akeson. Akeson's a bit undersized (5'10", 190) and doesn't have the best set of wheels, but he's got skill and is typically very smart in how he approaches the game in front of him. If you've ever wondered how he'd play with more speed on his side, Aube-Kubel may be a guy you'll want to watch out for.

In any case, the Flyers' system's biggest current weakness is its lack of talent on the wings -- Akeson probably tops out as a middle-six winger if that, Taylor Leier has looked great but who knows how high his ceiling is, and Petr Straka is a long-shot top-six-or-bust guy. After that it gets real iffy real fast. So bringing in a guy with Aube-Kubel's talent, with the relatively positive scouting reports and strong numbers to back it up, looks like a pretty good investment for the Flyers' second-round pick.

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