Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Competition aplenty as under-the-radar depth piece Nicolas Aube-Kubel re-signs with Flyers

Competition aplenty as under-the-radar depth piece Nicolas Aube-Kubel re-signs with Flyers

There has been plenty of talk about the Flyers' bottom-six depth.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel should be in the discussion when training camp rolls around.

The Flyers re-signed the restricted free agent Tuesday to a one-year, two-way contract worth $700,000.

The 2014 second-round pick made his NHL debut last season and played a stretch of nine games from Oct. 30 to Nov. 17. He was a plus-1 with two shots in limited ice time (5:35 per game).

The 23-year-old winger is an intriguing piece to the Flyers' picture because of his speed and scoring ability, while also understanding a third- or fourth-line role. Over his last two seasons with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley, Aube-Kubel has scored 34 goals and 76 points in 126 regular-season games. In his AHL career, he's a plus-35.

The Flyers have a job open for a bottom-six winger. Aube-Kubel will compete for a spot with guys like Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost, Isaac Ratcliffe, German Rubtsov, Carsen Twarynski, Mikhail Vorobyev, Andy Andreoff and Kurtis Gabriel.

Fletcher has two more restricted free agents to take care of and they're big ones: Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny (see story).

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5 players who can fill right wing position without Flyers tapping into free-agent market

AP Images/Zack Hill, Philadelphia Flyers

5 players who can fill right wing position without Flyers tapping into free-agent market

It's July 1, meaning NHL free agency is underway.

Some of the biggest names of last season opened up on the market — players including Artemi Panarin and Matt Duchene, who look to be instant impact players for the Rangers and Predators, respectively. However, those acquisitions came at a costly price.

The Flyers, on the other hand, signed eight depth players Monday. The team was not expected to do much.

If Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher was able to go into the market having a ton of cap space, things would be a different story. With all of their restricted free agents still unsigned (Ivan Provorov, Travis Konency, Scott Laughton and Nicolas Aube-Kubel), it seems like the way to go about finding depth for next season’s roster is to let the kids play.

Here are five possible players who could fill the third-line spot at right wing without the team having to tap into the free-agent market.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel

The only player on this list who did not attend development camp, Aube-Kubel should be a somewhat familiar name. He played nine games with the Flyers last season and while he didn't register a single point, his average time on ice was a mere 5:35.

What really stands out is his ability to drive play while with the Phantoms. Last season was his third full year playing with the Flyers' AHL affiliate and his game and overall performance continued to improve.

Playing 54 games with the Phantoms, Aube-Kubel tallied 30 points (16 goals, 14 assists). 

It's also important to keep in mind that Aube-Kubel is an RFA but was extended a qualifying offer.

Carsen Twarynski

Twarynski was notably one of the best contenders for this same spot when training camp kicked off last season. His aggressiveness, quick wrist shot and ability to drive to the net are what can make him a contender for this position once again.

He eventually fell to runner-up as Mikhail Vorobyev got the call to start off the season and Twarynski was assigned to the Phantoms. It appears to have affected him in a negative way, since he had a very difficult time getting into a groove with the Phantoms. If he kept improving rather than slumping for the first three months of the season, it would’ve been more than likely that he would’ve gotten the next call up instead of Aube-Kubel.

While his 24 points (10 goals, 14 assists) with the Phantoms weren't nearly what the team was hoping to get from him, the physicality of his game picked up.

Don’t count out Twarynski. While 2018-19 was his first full season as pro and he was still getting adjusted to the speed of the game, he showed a lot of positives that could be a great addition to the bottom six of the roster.

Isaac Ratcliffe

The tallest Flyers prospect at 6-foot-6, Ratcliffe had himself one heck of a final season in the OHL with the Guelph Storm and is ready to turn pro.

Through the past regular season, Ratcliffe played a total of 65 games and had 82 points (50 goals, 32 assists). Ratcliffe had an excellent postseason for the Storm, who won the OHL championship.

Even with Ratcliffe's height, he is able to get down the ice in just a few solid strides. Anticipating where the play is going next is another one of his strengths that should translate well to the NHL level, not to mention his puck-handling is at its best when being tested in front of the net.

Ratcliffe is typically on the left wing, so shifting to the right wing would be an adjustment for him in addition to adapting to the quicker pace of the game. 

Morgan Frost

Frost has certainly lived up to the hype after being deemed as one of the Flyers’ top prospects over the past two seasons. The combination of his speed and how he handles the puck is something that will translate very well once he goes pro.

Completely dominant in his final season of the OHL, Frost led the Soo Greyhounds with a whopping 109 points (37 goals, 73 assists). That landed him fourth overall in points in the OHL. 

He also made a clear mentality shift at the start of last season, taking on as big of a leadership role as possible.

With the addition of Kevin Hayes to supplement Sean Couturier and Nolan Patrick, the center depth for the Flyers looks very solid. While a right wing spot is available, transitioning to the pro game might be easier for Frost at the position he is most comfortable with — although a slight adjustment to the wing seems like something he is capable of doing.

Frost certainly made his mark at the end of development camp this past Saturday as he potted one filthy shootout goal.

Joel Farabee

Following his highly successful development camp, it seems like Farabee could be the top contender on the team’s current list of prospects to get the call up. 

Selected by the Flyers 14th overall in last year’s draft, Farabee has stood out in the best way possible. Transitioning Farabee's game to the NHL could be ideal for the Flyers since they are in a more "win now" mentality than in previous seasons.

After completing his freshman season at Boston University and winning the 2019 Tim Taylor Award as college hockey's Rookie of the Year, Farabee signed his entry-level contract with the Flyers and is ready to turn pro. He led the Terriers with 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists) in 37 games played.

His instincts on the ice in addition to his hockey IQ make for one intimidating player. After playing right winger for most of his teenage years, slotting him into the third line could be the perfect way to jump-start his professional career.

While Farabee's stature (6-foot-1, 175 pounds) was once a concern, the league is changing. The number on the scale may have been too light for Farabee to play in the NHL a decade ago, but his skating ability and speed would be a nice fit in the current look of the NHL. If he can put on some extra weight before training camp in September, his chances at cracking the roster will only grow.

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2019 NHL free agency: An outlook for the Flyers

2019 NHL free agency: An outlook for the Flyers

NHL free agency will be upon us Monday and it was expected to be a significant period for the Flyers.

Now? Not so much.

In his first offseason as Flyers general manager, Chuck Fletcher wasted no time getting to work, acquiring Kevin Hayes, Matt Niskanen, Justin Braun and Tyler Pitlick, while parting ways with Radko Gudas, Andrew MacDonald, Ryan Hartman and David Schlemko.

The bulk of Fletcher's work has been completed, but that doesn't mean he's done. Firstly, don't ever rule out a trade. Secondly, the Flyers are still looking to add.

What might that be?

Let's break down the team's outlook entering Monday:

Cap world

The Flyers have around $15.7 million in cap space. A significant amount of that money will go to the team's four remaining restricted free agents. When the Flyers traded restricted free agent Hartman to the Stars Monday, much of the deal was about cost certainty.

"The cap coming in at $81.5 million — at one point, there were projections it would be $83 million," Fletcher said Wednesday. "We're making plans all year and then the $81.5 million is a little bit of a curveball at the 11th hour and we had to adjust. We're just trying to keep as much flexibility as we can to get our RFAs signed and to make sure we can accrue as much cap space as possible going into the season, keep as much and during the season.

"You can accrue it quickly and just to give ourselves that opportunity — whether it's this summer, in the fall or next winter — to improve our team."

The RFAs

Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov, Scott Laughton and Nicolas Aube-Kubel have to be re-signed. 

"It may take some time," Fletcher said Wednesday. "Just looking around the league, it seems to be a common theme."

Could Konecny receive a bridge deal? How much will Provorov demand? Will Laughton file for arbitration?

We will have to wait and see, but Fletcher said his RFAs are a priority right now and those projected deals will impact what the Flyers can do in free agency.

The Flyers will have to work around projections. As we noted, Fletcher made his improvements ahead of free agency. Spending from July 1 and on is not as realistic or needed.

Add a winger?

The Flyers appear to have an open job on the third line, specifically at wing.

There are, of course, internal candidates. Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost, Aube-Kubel, Carsen Twarynski, Mikhail Vorobyev and Isaac Ratcliffe will all push for the Flyers' roster in training camp.

Will Fletcher make the climb steeper by acquiring a forward in free agency?

"We have plenty of cap space to bring our players back; whether we have enough to go add another player, I’m not sure about that," Fletcher said. "Going into the summer, we had certain priorities — obviously re-sign our own RFAs, find a goaltender to play with Carter [Hart], get a No. 2 centerman and add one to two quality defensemen. We were able to achieve a lot of things. 

"Whether we're able to add another winger or another forward — we're certainly going to have to add some forwards here for depth and to compete in our bottom six — but whether we go after another high-end player, that wasn't a very big priority for our team."

Fletcher will more so look to add organizational depth on defense and possibly a role forward to provide the Flyers with greater options come training camp.

"I just know that every summer, you put your roster together and when you come to training camp, inevitably there are players that positively surprise you and then there are players that maybe are a little bit disappointing," Fletcher said. "So you don't always know the holes that you may end up really having. 

"If we start the season with what we have now, and knowing that we have a pretty good chance of adding a few more players for depth, we'd be fine, we'd be happy. We'd be a significantly deeper team, a more talented team and we'll certainly have opportunities — whether it's the next week, training camp there will be roster decisions every team has to make, and then during the season you can make tweaks, as well."

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