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Flyers recall Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Tyrell Goulbourne, send Mikhail Vorobyev to Phantoms

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A team looking for answers makes a move.

Philadelphia Flyers v New York Rangers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Following Saturday’s brutal 6-1 demolishing at the hands of the Islanders, it felt like something had to give with this team in its current state. Today, it looks like the Flyers have decided what that something will be, at least for now, and it’s a series of personnel moves with the Phantoms.

First, a look at who’s gone. Mikhail Vorobyev played in Saturday’s game, marking the first time he’s played in two weeks after a series of healthy scratches. But after getting regular shifts in the first period, Hakstol effectively benched Vorobyev in the second and kept him out until the game was out of hand. Asked about that decision after the game, Hakstol (see quote below) essentially implied that he didn’t trust Vorobyev to be a good hockey player right now.

Cool.

So in that vein, sending him back to the Phantoms makes some sense. If the team really does believe there’s an effort issue at play with Vorobyev, as that quote would suggest, maybe they think that sending him back to the Phantoms will do something about that. In any case, keeping him up at the NHL level only to play single-digit minutes and/or get scratched wasn’t the answer.

Additionally, the Flyers moved Corban Knight to injured reserve. Knight left Saturday’s game in the first period after taking what appeared to be a shot off of his hand, so his being on injured reserve means that he’ll miss at least a week’s worth of games, which means we likely won’t see him on this Western Conference road swing that kicks off on Tuesday.

Now, to the additions. Aube-Kubel, a 2014 second-round pick, will make his NHL debut on Tuesday in Anaheim, as the Flyers would not have called him up without wanting him to play in these games. The QMJHL winger took a big step forward last year in his second AHL season, and after being one of the last cuts off the team in training camp, he has seven points in eight games so far this year with the Phantoms. Additionally, BSH’s Brad Keffer’s manually-tracked underlying numbers paint a pretty strong picture of his performance so far this season:

The guess from here is that Aube-Kubel is around to fill the role left by Michael Raffl, who went down with an injury against Colorado and will be out for a few more weeks. Again, he’s one that the Flyers called up to play, so it’ll be interesting to see what he does given a chance at the NHL level for the first time.

The wild card here is in the Flyers’ other forward call-up, Tyrell Goulbourne. Goulbourne, a 2013 third-round pick, is an “energy” player in every sense of the word, particularly in the sense that that’s probably the only thing that’s expected of him when he’s called upon. He was called up to the Flyers last year in early January and, on his first shift, laid out St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo in the offensive zone to ultimately free the puck loose for a Flyers goal. That was his only noteworthy moment during his nine-game stint last year, and the Flyers sent him back down after that.

Goulbourne isn’t much of a point producer and, per Brad’s numbers, does very little in the way of positive play-driving, but again, that’s clearly not what the Flyers care about right now. This team called up Goulbourne last year at a time where they felt they needed a spark, and they felt that he successfully gave them one in his limited time with the team. After Dave Hakstol (unsuccessfully) asked his team for a spark last Friday in practice before Saturday’s drubbing, it sure looks like he’s going back to that well once again. It’s also theoretically possible that Goulbourne is around to be an extra body and serve as the healthy scratch, but this feels like a time where the Flyers want his presence in the lineup.

So with those players in and out, what will the lines look like? The top-6 guys from Saturday’s game figure to remain in the lineup (though maybe there’ll be some shuffling done), and Vorobyev’s demotion would suggest that the third-line center job is Jordan Weal’s for the time being. But there’s a lot up in the air elsewhere in the bottom-6.

Let’s make some guesses, under the assumption that Aube-Kubel and Goulbourne are both here to play. If the team is willing to play Aube-Kubel on the fourth line, perhaps we could see the following:

Giroux - Couturier - Konecny

Laughton - Patrick - Voracek

Lindblom - Weal - Simmonds

Goulbourne - Lehtera - Aube-Kubel

Maybe they’d move some guys around in that top-9. Tough to say. By comparison, what if they feel Aube-Kubel only makes sense to play in a top-9 spot? That would presumably mean Dale Weise (who we scratched in the above example) would remain in the lineup, while someone else would step out in his place. Our best guess at this time as to who that would be is probably Oskar Lindblom, as he was rotating with Weal in practice earlier in this week and as such has a lineup spot that doesn’t seem totally safe.

In that case, we would most likely be looking at something like the following:

Giroux - Couturier - Konecny

Laughton - Patrick - Voracek

Aube-Kubel - Weal - Simmonds

Weise - Lehtera - Goulbourne

Complicating matters here, though, is the fact that Aube-Kubel is typically a right-winger, and the above lineup of course has him on the left side. If the Flyers want to ease his transition to the NHL, maybe they’d move some bodies around and put him on the right side. Of the Flyers’ current top-9 options, Jakub Voracek and Travis Konecny both have at least a bit of experience playing the left side. We could see something like this:

Giroux - Couturier - Voracek

Laughton - Patrick - Simmonds

Konecny - Weal - Aube-Kubel

Weise - Lehtera - Goulbourne

Or maybe they’d move Voracek over, creating something like this:

Giroux - Couturier - Konecny

Voracek - Patrick - Simmonds

Laughton - Weal - Aube-Kubel

Weise - Lehtera - Goulbourne

Or maybe they’ll do something none of us are expecting. The pressure is clearly on this team right now, and pressure can lead to some interesting decisions. We’ll see how things look when the team reconvenes on Monday.