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Philadelphia Flyers 25 Under 25: Can German Rubtsov put the pieces together?

The going has been tough lately for the Flyers’ 2016 first-round pick.

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

We continue through our 25 Under 25 rankings, and arrive at one of our more polarizing cases. German Rubtsov has had a strange and complicated go of things since entering the Flyers’ organization, and has faced more than a little bit of ire—deservedly or not—for it. Expectations remain high for the 2016 first round pick, and a lot of questions remain as to just what his ceiling might be, and how soon we might see him making a jump to the next level.

After entering the QMJHL and joining the Chicoutimi Sagueneens partway through the 2016-17 season, we saw some struggle as he adjusted to the North American ice and style of play, but this was more or less to be expected. We wanted him to light it up, we were hoping that he might show this flash and ease the simmering worries, but when this didn’t quite happen, we understood. It’s a big transition for someone to make. So we gave him some leeway, with the hope, or the expectation, that 2017-18 would be the season he put it all together and showed us what he could do. He had to, right?

No. 14: German Rubtsov

Position: C
Age: 20 (6/27/1998)
Size: 6’0”, 187 (via)
Acquired Via: 2016 NHL Draft — Round 1, Pick 22 (Pick acquired from Winnipeg along with Pick No. 36 in 2016 in exchange for Picks No. 18 and 79 in 2016 on June 24, 2016)
2017-18 League/Team/Statistics: Chicoutimi/Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL) - 15 G, 28 A in 49 GP
Nationality: Russian
Ranking in BSH Winter 2018 25 Under 25: 12

Well, not quite. That strange and complicated track we alluded to above? It more than certainly extended to this past season. After his first 11 games saw him pick up his first 11 points of the season (three goals and eight assists), he was traded to the Acadie-Bathurst Titans, where he would veritably start his season all over again. All told, he racked up 32 more points with the Titans in the regular season, and 10 more in their 19 game playoff push to eventually win the Memorial Cup. And that seems good, right?

43 points in in 49 regular season games in the Q rounds out to just under a point per game, and on the surface, doesn’t seem far from a respectable figure. But when we look a little closer, it loses its luster. When we account for league quality, we can equate (per Rob Vollman’s translation factors) these to around 12 points at the NHL level, before even making any note that these 43 points were scored as an over-age player and shouldn’t be viewed as exactly equally weighted as those scored by a player in his draft year, for example. So the sample gets a little distorted, we might say, and those worries that we mentioned may be starting to bubble again.

So he put up a relatively lukewarm individual season, despite the excellent collective result in the Memorial Cup victory. And then he showed up to development camp and, despite citing the long season having just ended and noting that he hadn’t yet been able to dip fully into his usual offseason training, flashed some impressive skill.

And, in a way, this wasn’t a surprise. We knew, more or less, what he had in the toolbelt—good hands, plus skating, and a solid vision during game-type situations, for example. And, in a way, this is where the real disjunction comes in. We know Rubtsov is a highly skilled player, and we know he has at least the potential to have solid NHL upside, if only he could put it all together, and put it together consistently.

Indeed, this has been one of the biggest critique’s of Rubtsov’s play. Not that his style is lazy per se, as that would be an oversimplification, and an unfair one at that, but rather that he so obviously has the requisite skills to be dangerous offensively, both in general and particularly in the Q (which is known for being a high scoring league), but for whatever reason he won’t or can’t seem to get them all to come together at the same time to make the push in that end.

So, where does this leave us? Where are we going? Where is he going? It’s tough to say. Training camp could push a difficult decision onto the Flyers, and we could possibly see a future in which he is sent back to the Q for another year to really round out and remain in a stable environment for a full season, though the most likely course of action is that he’lll make the jump to the AHL level and join the Phantoms for the next season. It all depends on how good he is in camp, and what the Flyers see out of him, and where they think he might be best suited.

But, that said, what we might expect, what we need to see, remains the same. The year we wanted to see from Rubtsov in 2017-18, him finally getting settled, showing some consistency, and dominating in a league he should be dominating, has just been pushed back. This time we mean it. This year’s the year. If he’s sent back to the Q, he should be showing some of that dominance. If he’s given the bump to the AHL, we might see a bit of an adjustment period needed, which is just fine, but we should also see him take a step forward in his offensive game, as Hextall said at the close of camp that they were also wanting to see. Or, at least we hope that’s where this all goes.

Because, discouraged as we might feel right now, based on the results of his seasons to date, the fact remains that Rubtsov is a skilled player with NHL upside. The pieces are there and we’ve seen them, we know it. It’s just a question of them all finally coming together. And while, yes, considering his place as a former first round pick, we might have hoped to have seen more from him by now, but he’s not quite there, and that’s okay too. Let’s not forget, he’s had to do a lot of moving and adjusting, and he’s still only just turned 20. He still has ample time to take the requisite steps forward. We don’t have to hit the panic button, not just yet, at least.

How We Voted For German Rubtsov

Bill Brad Craig Jake Jaypo Joe John Kelly Kurt Kyle Maddie Mike Steph Steve Community
Bill Brad Craig Jake Jaypo Joe John Kelly Kurt Kyle Maddie Mike Steph Steve Community
22 16 13 13 18 12 12 14 13 13 17 12 17 21 16

How We Voted At No. 14

Bill Brad Craig Jake Jaypo Joe John Kelly Kurt Kyle Maddie Mike Steph Steve Community
Bill Brad Craig Jake Jaypo Joe John Kelly Kurt Kyle Maddie Mike Steph Steve Community
Mikhail Vorobyev Scott Laughton Jay O'Brien Mikhail Vorobyev Mikhail Vorobyev Tanner Laczynski Robert Hagg German Rubtsov Mikhail Vorobyev Mikhail Vorobyev Wade Allison Samuel Morin Samuel Morin Taylor Leier Mikhail Vorobyev

How The Community Voted For German Rubtsov

Ranking # of Votes
Ranking # of Votes
1 0
2 1
3 4
4 1
5 1
6 3
7 8
8 7
9 13
10 26
11 35
12 33
13 61
14 77
15 80
16 107
17 89
18 98
19 71
20 74
21 54
22 46
23 34
24 24
25 20
NR 49

Previously in Philadelphia Flyers Summer 2018 Top 25 Under 25: