As we reach the midway point of our 25 Under 25 countdown, we start to see a shift in the type of player being profiled. Many of the ones we've looked at so far (certainly not all 12 of them, but a good number of them) are likely either players who don't project to be much more than bottom-half-of-the-lineup types -- i.e. ones who likely don't figure to be top-6 forwards or top-4 defensemen -- or players who very well could have that ceiling, but are just too young for us to have a really good feeling about it just yet.
Moving forward, even before we get to the Ivan Provorovs and Travis Konecnys of the countdown, we'll be looking at a number of players who do look like they have that ceiling of a real difference-maker in the lineup. Guys who we knew could be special from the moment their names were read on draft day, or guys who have put together a number of strong seasons since being drafted.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel falls into the latter of those two camps. Two straight excellent seasons in the QMJHL have propelled him from a somewhat obscure winger prospect to a player that Flyers fans have high expectations for.
No. 13: Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Age: 20 (5/10/1996)
2015-16 League/Team/Statistics: Val-d'Or (QMJHL) - 38 G, 46 A in 61 GP
Nationality: Canadian (Sorel, QC)
Acquired Via: 2014 NHL Draft -- Round 2, Pick 48
Two summers ago, we gave Aube-Kubel the No. 15 spot on these rankings, calling him "the team's top forward prospect outside of the NHL or AHL" two months after his being drafted. However, that was more a product of the Flyers lacking a ton of depth in their prospect group than it was us being wowed by the young Canadian winger's resume.
Fast forward two years, though, and not only has Aube-Kubel not dropped back as the Flyers' prospect pool has taken monumental steps forward, he's managed to move up a couple of spots, behind only a group consisting mostly of first-round types.
The big jump forward for Aube-Kubel came in 2014-15, right after the Flyers had drafted him. After a respectable 53 points in his draft season, he rocketed up to an 80-point season in his age-18 season, the way Ron Hextall was surely hoping he would when taking him in the second round the summer before. Aube-Kubel posted a nearly identical 2015-16 year, with four more assists and the exact same number of goals (38) as in the year before, so while this past year didn't necessarily represent another step forward, it was another season of him being one of the best scorers in the QMJHL.
While you can never say never in terms of who may break camp with the Flyers, by far the most likely scenario for Aube-Kubel this year is that he ends up playing in Lehigh Valley. And even though the Phantoms have brought in a number of strong AHL-caliber forwards this offseason, you have to think that Ron Hextall and Scott Gordon would love nothing more than to watch Aube-Kubel grab a top-6 spot in the lineup right from the outset.
So should we be more excited about Aube-Kubel than maybe we currently are? Guys who are among the Q's scoring leaders in multiple seasons aren't necessarily easy to find, and for a franchise that always seems to be looking for talented wingers, you'd think he'd maybe get a bit more hype from the fanbase than he seems to. Most places you would look consider him no better than the organization's third-best wing prospect behind Travis Konecny and Oskar Lindblom, and only one of those three is guaranteed to be playing hockey in Pennsylvania this season.
Whether we should or not, Aube-Kubel seems ready for the challenge of the pros. One of the biggest knocks on him post-draft was that he wasn't a very big player; he's put on at least 15 pounds in the last year, so have fun trying to knock him over. He's not the fastest skater you'll ever see, but he can move pretty well, enough to complement his playmaking instincts. He's shown enough in the past two years to give us reason to be excited about him, and now we have a chance to see him in our own backyard.
How we voted for Nicolas Aube-Kubel :
How we voted at No. 13 :
|Petr Straka||Nicolas Aube-Kubel||Nicolas Aube-Kubel||Oskar Lindblom||Anthony Stolarz||Oskar Lindblom||Robert Hagg||Philippe Myers||Oskar Lindblom||Philippe Myers|
Previously in Philadelphia Flyers Top 25 Under 25, Summer 2016: