If the Flyers teams of the future will be defined by speed, Nicolas Aube-Kubel will fit right in.
The Flyers selected the 18-year-old quick-footed forward Saturday in the second round (48th overall) of the NHL draft (see draft tracker).
Aube-Kubel’s English is shaky -- he’s French Canadian -- but the reception he received when his name was announced in front of the home crowd at the Wells Fargo Center wasn’t lost on him or his 25 friends and family that joined him in the stands.
“When I put the jersey on, it was very special,” he said. “To hear the screams in the stands, it’s amazing.”
Aube-Kubel can play both center and right wing, but spent the past four years on the wing, playing most recently for the Val-d’Or Foreurs of the QMJHL. He played on the team’s second line last season, netting 22 goals (53 points) in the process.
He helped carry the Foreurs to the Presidents Cup and the Memorial Cup semifinal, and that’s when scouts really took notice.
“It was awesome,” Aube-Kubel said. “I think I showed a lot during the Memorial Cup. It was a good experience and a good opportunity to show off there.”
A Sorel-Tracy, Quebec, native, Aube-Kubel is generally regarded as undersized. He’s listed as 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, and his strength is highlighted as a concern in analyses of his talents.
That said, he’s a hardworking, high-energy player, as well, and he’s well aware of his strengths and weaknesses. His game, he said, most resembles Kyle Turris of the Ottawa Senators.
“I have good hockey sense offensively,” Aube-Kubel said. “And my skating ability is really good. This year I worked hard for being better defensively, and on my consistency.”
Coaches and scouts noted his two-way game improved vastly over the course of the last season and playoffs. But it is consistency, Aube-Kubel said, that most needs to improve in order for him to take his game to the next level.
"He's competitive, got speed, he’s a winger," general manager Ron Hextall said. "Got some good hands, we think he’s got some upside. The speed factor was certainly talked about."
Like the Flyers’ first-round draft pick Travis Sanheim (see story), Aube-Kubel also has a bit of a connection to the organization. Two, actually.
His agent is Phil Lecavalier, Vinny’s brother. And though the new Flyer has never talked to Vinny, he knows through Phil that the Flyers are a team that has signed plenty of French Canadians over the years. That includes a recent draft pick Aube-Kubel has played against: Last year’s first-round selection, Sam Morin, who plays for the QMHL’s Rimouski Oceanic.
“He’s a tough guy,” Aube-Kubel said. “He’s really good.”
He’s so good, Aube-Kubel added, that he can’t remember whether or not he’s ever been hit by the big defenseman.
“I pass on the other side,” he said, grinning.
And as for the city of Philadelphia, Aube-Kubel got a fast primer on what fans are like here. He was here for the first round, too.
“I know they’re loud,” he said. “I heard them yesterday. It was awesome. Just to hear the screaming for the Flyers when they were making their pick, and when I put on the jersey, it was awesome.”