The Seattle Kraken will have quite a few big decisions for themselves at next month’s Expansion Draft. They won’t be the only team impacted by the draft, however, as 30 NHL teams will lose a player to Seattle. The Philadelphia Flyers are one of the teams that may be impacted more than others by the NHL Expansion Draft.
On Monday, we looked at how the Expansion Draft could weigh heavily on the Flyers in more ways than one. They’ll be losing a player to Seattle and it could also mark the start of a busy period of offseason activity.
The Flyers only have a handful of players that seem like realistic possibilities to be exposed and selected by the Kraken in the expansion draft. This week, we’ll go through them (alphabetically) and look at a variety of things around the player.
First up is Nicolas Aube-Kubel, a rather under-the-radar option for the Seattle Kraken.
Why the Seattle Kraken will select Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Aube-Kubel, 25, has a $1.075 million cap hit through the end of next season. After that, he is an arbitration-eligible restricted free agent.
The bottom-six grinder showed some promise in the 2019-20 season with 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in just 36 games. In fact, 10 of those 15 points came in a 13-game span from February 8th through March 5th when the Flyers were on their hot streak.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel is a great energy guy to have in the bottom six. By selecting Aube-Kubel, the Kraken would be taking a potentially low-risk, high-reward type player. The Vegas Golden Knights gave a bit of a blueprint for the Kraken by turning depth players into top-six forwards.
Aube-Kubel may have the skill to become more than just a depth player. He was a second-round pick for a reason and had back-to-back 38-goal seasons in his final two years in the QMJHL. If he hits, the Kraken look like geniuses. If he doesn’t, he’s a low-risk and low-cost option to have in the bottom six.
Why the Seattle Kraken won’t select Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Aube-Kubel may be viewed as a dime-a-dozen type player by the Kraken. Most teams have someone like Aube-Kubel –– or better –– that will be left exposed as one of the best options for Seattle. The Flyers, on the other hand, will have a few better options exposed.
Aube-Kubel’s decline this past season could cause the Kraken to pass on him. He only had 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 50 games. His discipline was an issue as well with 44 penalty minutes after picking up just 19 the year prior.
The impact on the Flyers if Aube-Kubel gets selected
To be honest, it may not be that much. As stated above, Aube-Kubel had a great end to the 2019-20 season but, like many Flyers, disappointed in 2021.
As of now, Aube-Kubel is still penciled into the Flyers’ bottom-six –– likely the fourth line –– for next season. The potential is still there, as we mentioned, but it may need a change of scenery to get unlocked.
If Aube-Kubel doesn’t get selected, it’s likely due to the Kraken wanting a top-six player from the Flyers. There aren’t going to be too many of them available for them while Aube-Kubel is just another bottom-six grinder.
If Aube-Kubel is selected, the Flyers’ salary cap situation may go from bad to worse. They’ll still have all of their big contracts with a top-four defenseman atop their lengthy offseason wish list.
Will the Seattle Kraken select Nicolas Aube-Kubel?
It’s a better possibility than some may think. Aube-Kubel is a cheap option for Seattle and he’s shown he can forecheck with the best of him.
“I think my role stayed pretty much the same: a bottom-six guy … trying to be effective on the forecheck and creating momentum for the team,” Aube Kubel said during his exit interview. “Try to stay consistent.”
However, it might be risky for the Kraken to pass on the other Flyers potentially available to them. There are two players (James van Riemsdyk, Jakub Voracek) that would likely play on their top line and have reasonable enough contracts for an expansion team. Another option, Shayne Gostisbehere, could find a resurgence with a change of scenery.
I give it about a 10-20% chance that Seattle selects Aube-Kubel. That is if the Flyers don’t make any side deals or add a sweetener to nudge Seattle in a certain direction.
Photo: Heather Barry Images