Flyers

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Nicolas Aube-Kubel

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Nicolas Aube-Kubel

The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October.

In an End to End series starting today, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Taryn Hatcher, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances.

Today we will be looking at rookie Nicolas Aube-Kubel.

Destra

The 2019-20 season felt like the first time the Flyers were able to put their stacked pipeline to the test and it made the long wait worth it. Aube-Kubel, a second-round pick in the 2014 NHL draft, was finally given a legitimate shot with the club and he didn’t disappoint. 

He dressed for 36 games this season, collected 15 points along the way (seven goals, eight assists) and did so as a bottom-six forward. His numbers aren’t out of this world, but for a rookie to transition to the NHL as smoothly and confidently as he did, he elevated his game — and the team as a whole — from the jump. For years, creating depth on the roster has remained a consistent issue. So having a young, strong, smart forward in the mix, who is able to adapt to any situation thrown at him, makes for a promising future. 

Aube-Kubel has quickly become a reliable asset and will only continue to grow as his career progresses. He made his mark in only 36 games ... imagine what he will be capable of with the full 82.

Based on my personal expectations set when he was called up in December, I’d give him an A. 

Emmer

This is a young player that had his chances last season, but couldn’t exactly make that splash that would solidify a roster spot with the Flyers. This year, with the new coaching staff, he had another chance to showcase what he could bring to the table and he executed.

The Flyers' 2014 second-round pick knew he had a lot to prove when he got his call-up right before the holidays. In his first five games, Aube-Kubel recorded three points (one goal, two assists), was a plus-1 and generated 11 shots on goal. Following those five games, the winger continued to grow in the bottom six.

When you talk about how strong the Flyers depth at forward has been this season, NAK is a big reason for it. Though he could have added more in the final 13 games of the regular season, he still had some solid numbers (36 games, seven goals, eight assists). On top of that offensive depth, he also added physicality. Though you could argue dropping the gloves isn’t the biggest part of the game anymore, coaches still love to see that toughness. Aube-Kubel got into his fair share of scuffles. His 82 hits in 36 games isn’t something to overlook either. 

His 2019-20 regular-season performance is an easy A.

Hatcher

Last season, I remember a lot of people around the team talking about Aube-Kubel as a guy who needed to take that “next step” to be a consistent NHL guy. It seems under Alain Vigneault and the current Flyers coaching staff, he’s been able to do just that.

When NAK was called up midseason for depth following a string of injuries among the Flyers' forwards, Vigneault publicly said he believed he had all the raw materials to succeed at the NHL level — speed, ability, physicality. But, Vigneault thought Aube-Kubel needed to put it all together on a more consistent basis.

Well, once the Flyers hit their stride following the NHL All-Star break, it seems so did Aube-Kubel. Since Jan. 31, he recorded five goals, six assists and was a plus-7 in 19 games played. Of course, he recorded that Gordie Howe hat trick against the Capitals during that stretch as well. He’s really taken that “next step” to become a good depth piece for the team.

I’d give him an A for growth and surpassing certain expectations, but I think he’s still got quite a bit of room to grow as a player. So it’s a solid B/B+ for me right now.

Fordyce

When the Flyers penciled NAK into the lineup, I highly doubt they envisioned 15 points in 36 games. They likely expected bottom-six if not bottom-three minutes, sound defensive play and a guy who could fill out a lineup. Aube-Kubel far surpassed those expectations.

Aube-Kubel scored seven goals and registered eight assists, and within those seven goals, two of them were power play goals. This is a player who later in the season the Flyers could count on to be a swiss army knife — able to move up and down the lineup, play with different players, and even chip in on the power play if necessary. In my opinion, the road is paved for Aube-Kubel to, at minimum, be a bottom-six mainstay going forward with a potential ceiling much higher.

I’m going to give Aube-Kubel an A for this season.

Hall

In mid-December, Aube-Kubel was summoned by the banged-up Flyers out of sheer necessity and gave them every reason to keep him up the remainder of the season.

He made himself constantly noticeable with an energetic and opportunistic style. He was also eager for opportunity after a nine-game stint last season in which he played only 5:35 minutes per night.

This season through 36 games, the 24-year-old winger recorded seven goals and eight assists in 11:17 minutes per night, even earning power play time.

Vigneault strategically found good spots for Aube-Kubel, rewarding his strong play while effectively keeping him motivated. As a result, Aube-Kubel consistently provided his north-south effort and he made the Flyers better, as they went 24-11-2 since his call-up.

“I didn’t really know a lot about him,” Vigneault said in late February. “I saw him a little bit in training camp, we didn’t keep him obviously because we felt at the time there were some other players that were performing better. But ever since we’ve called him up, I think he’s felt better. In my sense, he’s improving. You see the speed, the size, the physicality, big body that can go in the tough areas. Can he put it all together and become an effective NHL player? Time will well. I do know in this span, so far for us, he’s been good and we need him to continue to be good.”

Let’s give Aube-Kubel a B+ for seizing opportunity with a positive 36-game body of work.

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2019-20 Flyers season grades: Travis Konecny

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Travis Konecny

The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October. 

In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances. 

Today we will be looking at Travis Konecny. 

Destra

The Flyers would have been a fraction of the team it was this season without Konecny. You can’t say enough good things about the player he’s becoming. Now, at the end of his fourth season with the Flyers, he’s finally found exactly where he belongs on this roster. 

No. 11 has always been the kind of player to get under the opposing team’s skin — luckily, he’s on the Flyers' side. There was a distinct shift in confidence throughout the 2019-20 season and it was noticeable in all aspects of his game. While it could have something to do with his shiny new six-year contract, he also had a fresh start with the new additions behind the bench. 

Konecny dressed for 66 games this season and posted a team best in points with 61 (24 goals, 37 assists). This is the third straight season he’s ended with 24 goals, but had play not been suspended because of the growing COVID-19 concerns, he would have most likely found himself with a new career high. 

A+ for Konecny — and expectations are most definitely going to be raised moving forward.  

Emmer

This one is an easy grade.

The 2019-20 season was hands down Konecny’s best of his career. He was showing a more confident style that we hadn’t seen before, making more risky plays with the puck, taking more chances and capitalizing — all of which was portrayed in his 61 points in 66 games, which led the team.

He also stepped up on the Flyers’ improved power play this season, recording five goals and 18 assists on the man advantage. He was a spark plug — he consistently brought energy to the bench and to the game, especially when he made it on the score sheet.

His confident play landed him his first All-Star selection and his improved shooting percentage was a major key to the Flyers' offense.

A for Konecny.

Fordyce 

Konecny is an easy grade for me — it’s an obvious A. When Konecny is playing well, it’s infectious and has an effect on the entire team. The energy and spark that No. 11 plays with on a nightly basis is one of the most valuable parts of T.K.'s game.

This was a big growth season for Konecny, too, as he played a more disciplined game and shed some of the bad habits which had cost him and the Flyers in previous seasons with penalties and so forth. That can’t be understated. 

Now let's look at the numbers. In 66 games this season, Konecny equaled his career high in goals and if it were a normal season, it’s a virtual lock that he would have a new career high. Konecny’s 61 points were a career high and while he maintained his status as a scoring threat, he became more of a playmaker, dishing out a career-high 37 assists, 12 more than his previous high. 

This is certainly a player the Flyers will rely on in the future and this season was a huge leap. 

A for Konecny. 

Hall

On the heels of signing a new six-year, $33 million deal, Konecny had six three-point performances in 2019-20 after having a combined two over his first three NHL seasons.

That's big-time growth from a 23-year-old foundation piece.

Konecny led the Flyers in goals (24) and points (61) through 66 games. His 37 assists were a career high and he was one marker away from a new personal best.

The Flyers went 31-9-2 when he recorded at least a point and 10-9-5 when he had gone scoreless.

Konecny deserves an A for taking huge strides and backing up his contract.

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2019-20 Flyers season grades: Kevin Hayes

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Kevin Hayes

The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October.

In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances.

Today we will be looking at Kevin Hayes. 

Destra

Man oh man am I thrilled to be giving Hayes the grade he’s getting today. This time last year, Flyers fans were beyond the point of disappointment at the signing of the center — it’s safe to say things have taken a turn for the best. The Hayes signing was instantly justified before the 2019-20 season was even in full swing because of the news about Nolan Patrick and his migraine disorder. Had he not been brought in, the lines down the middle would have been very weak. 

Hayes didn’t miss a single one of the 69 games the Flyers played this season. During that time, he racked up an impressive 41 points (23 goals, 18 assists). He also had a career best in shorthanded goals (four) and game-winning goals (five). 

On top of the player he has been on the ice, Hayes has also helped the Flyers in many other ways. He’s a big personality and jumped into a leadership role almost instantly. I’d say he exceeded expectations on the first year of his contract. 

A+ … not bad for a former ref

Emmer

Kevin “I used to ref” Hayes brought a lot of excitement in his first year with the orange and black.

Because of the shortened season, Hayes recorded 23 goals in under 70 games, just two markers short of his career high. His 200-foot style that was anticipated in the preseason thrived in many ways throughout the year, especially on the penalty kill.

Last season, the Flyers' PK ranked 26th in the league, operating at 78.5 percent. This season, the PK ranked 11th at 81.8 percent — Hayes had a lot to do with it. He also led the team with four shorthanded goals — the most in his career.

Offensively, you could argue his consistency could have been stronger. He had a stretch in early November during which he went 10 games without a point and another six-game drought in early February, but when he did end up making it on the score sheet, he was a game-changer. The Flyers were 19-0-1 when Hayes scored a goal during the regular season; he was a spark plug out there. He loved big-game situations, as well — five game-winning goals can attest to that.

Away from his skill, Hayes brought energy, fun off the ice and extremely creative nicknames (very important). 

A- for Hayes.

Fordyce 

Hayes began his Flyers tenure with a big contract and big expectations. Last offseason, Hayes signed a seven-year, $50 million deal, which raised some eyebrows. At that time, Hayes had eclipsed the 20-goal plateau only one time in his career. However, through 69 games this season he had 23 goals, just two short of his career high, and he almost certainly would have bested that if the Flyers had played a full 82 games. 

Hayes delivered the full package to a team that desperately needed that when it signed him after trading for his contractual rights ahead of free agency. His two-way game is his most valuable asset and this season we’ve seen Hayes single-handedly kill penalties by keeping possession of the puck. It’s one thing to sign a big-time deal, it’s another to deliver on the expectations set forth by said deal. Additionally, Hayes is an invaluable member of the team in terms of locker room chemistry.

Hayes gets an A.

Hall

During his first regular season with the Flyers, Hayes more than lived up to the hype and pressure of signing a seven-year, $50 million deal in this city.

While we tend to fixate on offensive production in this game, especially for higher-paid players, Hayes had an immeasurable impact on the Flyers in the locker room, which can be just as important as any statistic.

But statistically speaking, he also did plenty of good things. Not only did the 28-year-old center make the Flyers tougher to play against, but he was also on pace to break his career high of 25 goals (he finished with 23 in 69 games) and did wonders for the team's penalty kill. In fact, Hayes scored four shorthanded goals, the same number the Flyers put up as a team in 2018-19 over a full 82-game season.

An A- for Hayes because his impact has already been felt in a multitude of ways.

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