Whenever a wild card prospect comes up to the Flyers and sticks, the first item marked on the character checklist is tenacity.
And that’s probably the main reason why Nicolas Aube-Kubel was rewarded with a two-year, one-way contract on Thursday worth $1.075 million per year.
Actually, it should come as no surprise the 24-year-old Alberta, Canada native came up from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Dec. 15, 2019 and basically refused to leave.
After all, after being taken in the second round (48th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Aube-Kubel had to play in 226 American Hockey League games before his Flyers’ number was called.
Enough with the waiting already.
“I would say that my career wasn’t always going the way I wanted before,’’ Aube-Kubel said during a Friday phone interview. “It was hard to stay in the American League, see a lot of guys get called up and do well. They are all your friends so it’s hard.
“To see them go up and do well, I’m happy for them and then I was waiting for my opportunity and my chance. It happened in December. I’m so glad I stayed up the rest of the year and I did well off the start.’’
Indeed. Playing mostly on the third or fourth lines, Aube-Kubel posted seven goals, 15 points with a plus-1.
Coach Alain Vigneault took a liking to the skilled but physical player and used him in a lot of different situations.
“This year I had a good chance to play on the power play,’’ Aube-Kubel said. “At one point, I was offensively in line and I think I kind of did well. Hopefully in the next few years I’ll get other chances like that. If not, I just stay focused on my role as I did this year. I’m just going to wait for opportunities and we’ll see how the next two years go.’’
Speaking of which, how gratifying was it to be rewarded with that two-year contract? Sort of acknowledgement for all the hard work he’s put in?
“I knew the Flyers were trying to have a deal with me since the end of the season,’’ Aube-Kubel said. “I was confident they liked what I did. I feel like the playoffs just confirmed that. That’s why I had such a good offer and so quick to finish the deal.’’
Aube-Kubel transitioned to the playoffs without a hitch but then he took a hard shot off the inner side of a knee and it hampered him awhile. Thankfully it wasn’t a fracture.
“I’d say the first three days it was hard to walk,’’ he said. “It was a big bone bruise. We didn’t know much about the diagnosis, but there was less swelling after a few days. I could skate and I felt comfortable the first few skates. It wasn’t hurting that much but maybe just a little less power in that leg through games.’’
What are his expectations for next season?
“I want to start where I left it,’’ he said. “I was playing hard in the playoffs, good minutes too. I just want to start the season the same way. Be ready. Be physical. Be in my top shape whenever the camp starts. It’s going to be a big challenge next year. We don’t know much about the coronavirus and everything. Just stay alert and be ready for next year.’’