The Germ(?) returns.
No. 24: German Rubtsov
2020-21 League/Team(s): HK Sochi (KHL)
2020-21 Statistics: 3 G, 8 A, 11 P in 46 GP
Acquired In: 2016 (drafted)
Ranking in Spring 2020 25 Under 25: 12th
How did Rubtsov’s 2020-21 hockey season go? Is his stock trending up or down from where it was entering the year?
The short answer here is that last season was a little underwhelming, to say the least. Rubtsov spent the whole of last season on loan to Sochi of the KHL, and he just never really seemed to get his offensive game rolling. There were some flashes where it looked like things were coming together for him, but we didn’t see it on a consistent basis.
Now, all of that said, there were some things working against Rubtsov last season, and injury was pretty chief among them. Flyers AGM Brent Flahr, in talking about Rubtsov’s season to our pal Charlie O’Connor, noted that he dealt with a wrist injury that really hindered him, “he couldn’t even hold onto his stick or shoot (the puck), so that was the other problem. They came over and they just thought it was a sprain, and he dislocated it — ligaments weren’t even attached to his wrist.”
So, with that taken into consideration, the lack of production makes sense. It doesn’t completely erase our feelings that we wished we had seen a bit more from Rubtsov last season, but it certainly takes the edge off. It was a tough year, all the same, and it hasn’t really helped to elevate his stock in the organization.
What are we expecting from Rubtsov this season? What should we be looking for from him?
In some ways, Rubtsov is coming into this season with a clean slate ahead of him. He’ll almost certainly be in the mix for a spot with the Flyers right out of camp, but the likelihood is that he’ll be starting the season down in Lehigh Valley with the Phantoms. There’s been a whole lot of turnover in terms of players since he was last with the team, and there’s a whole new coaching staff and system that will be in place. If there was ever a chance for him to have a bit of a reset, this would be it.
The hopes for this season, with all that he’ll have to get settled in with taken into consideration, are a little imprecise. We know that his defensive game is already very strong, but we’d like to see his offensive game coming out a little more. The instincts are certainly there, but there’s a bit more refining that needs to go into that side of his game for it to be showcased on a more consistent basis, and we’d like to see him take a step forward there.
And the other thing is that we’d just like to see him stay healthy. He’s battled with pretty significant injuries throughout most of his professional career, and that’s really hindered his play and development, and while we’re not expecting that he stays 100 percent healthy and plays absolutely every game (because it’s hockey, it’s a contact sport, and things happen), him having at least a mostly complete season to put in some work and try to build some momentum would go a long way for him.
How does Rubtsov fit into the Flyers’ long-term plans? Where does he stand in the Flyers’ organizational depth?
The Flyers do have a wealth of centers in the mix for jobs at the NHL level already, and the unfortunate reality is that this means that Rubtsov’s been shuffled down the depth chart a bit, with Morgan Frost healthy and Tanner Laczynski signed and turned pro since he was last in the mix for an NHL role. This doesn’t completely close the door for him, but it means that he’s going to have to do a lot of work to impress the front office and coaching staff if he wants to jump up and steal an NHL job.
What do we think Rubtsov’s ultimate NHL upside is, and how likely is it that he gets to something approaching that?
It still remains to be seen what Rubtsov’s offensive upside will end up being—we’ve seen flashes of what could be a really exciting toolkit, but we’re still waiting for him to put it all together more consistently—but even if he caps out more or less where he is now, as a player with a bit of puck skill but with a really well developed defensive game, there’s still space for that type of player to carve out a role for himself as a 4C at the NHL level. How the offensive game develops will really determine how much more than that he could be, but that remains to be seen. All in all, though, despite the fact that his development arc to date has been a strange and sometimes stilted one, there’s still a lot of potential here for Rubtsov to be an NHL player.
Man, being told your wrist is just sprained and then finding out actually your ligaments aren’t attached just sounds absolutely brutal.