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Flyers prospect German Rubtsov leaves Russia, will play in QMJHL

RDS reports that Rubtsov’s team in Chicoutimi has come to a transfer agreement with his KHL club

2016 NHL Draft - Portraits Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

Flyers forward prospect German Rubtsov is coming to North America. The 22nd overall pick in the 2016 draft will defect from his KHL club, HC Vityaz, and join the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team that holds his rights, the Chicoutimi Saguenéens.

We’re not sure on the details of the agreement, and RDS reports that the transfer needs to be formalized. We’re sure it, uh, probably includes money. But it’s a done deal. The KHL contract originally lasted until the end of next season. No longer.

Rubtsov was already in Canada as a member of the bronze-medal-winning Russian squad at the 2017 World Junior Hockey Championships. He was injured during the tournament after taking a stick to the face, but it’s not expected to keep him out long term, and he’ll finish the QMJHL season with Chicoutimi.

Rubtsov has only played a handful of games this season. He’s been playing a handful of minutes — like, Zac Rinaldo-type minutes — in the KHL, and it’s widely expected that coming to the Q will be good for him. He’ll step in and be a top player there, playing a big time center ice role for a team in the middle of the league standings. It also helps that the Flyers will finally be able to see him play on a regular basis, and that they’ll have a bit more say in his development than they would if he remained in Russia.

Back at the draft in June, Rubtsov said that he was actively trying to come to North America.

“My agent is still working on my contract to get out of Russia,” Rubtsov said through a translator after being picked by the Flyers in the first round. (He doesn’t speak any English.) “I’m hoping to play here in North America. Obviously first I’d like to try if I could make it at the NHL level but if not I’ll play wherever they tell me I should.”

General manager Ron Hextall had cautioned against that, saying that the organization was prepared for Rubtsov to remain two years in Russia. But it’s evident that this is the result both the team and the player wanted. It’ll be fun to see him get more playing time and get used to the North American style of play as an 18 year old.