When the Avalanche picked up Nicolas Aube-Kubel off waivers, this is exactly the type of role they had envisioned for him. His value is in his aggressiveness and forechecking but his offensive production is also an expectation.
And just one game after Jared Bednar applauded his play, Aube-Kubel had his first two-goal performance in the NHL to help the Avs come from behind and defeat the Seattle Kraken 4-3 at Ball Arena on Monday.
“Best game I’ve seen him play,” Bednar said of Aube-Kubel’s performance. “That’s the heaviness and the work ethic that he has to play with.”
Aube-Kubel was a waiver claim in November after starting his career with the Philadelphia Flyers. The Avalanche needed extra forward depth after an offseason of change. They had hopes of either Sampo Ranta or Mikhail Maltsev playing a more permanent role but neither was able to stick with the big club in the early going.
Alternatively, the Flyers had a number of offseason acquisitions that made Aube-Kubel expendable. It was a perfect match for Colorado and the 25-year-old forechecker that can fill out the bottom six.
The past two games were more of what the Avs had hoped for. It’s just a matter of seeing that type of performance from him more consistently.
“I don’t think he was let go from Philly because of lack of skill,” Bednar said following Colorado’s 12th consecutive victory on home ice. “I think it’s it’s more work related. He works hard in the gym, he’s a coachable kid. And I just see another level that he’s gonna have to get to.”
Aube-Kubel has four goals in 20 games since being claimed off waivers. Three of them have come against Seattle’s starter and former Avalanche netminder Philipp Grubauer. He climbed to 10 points, playing mostly on a line with center Alex Newhook and a revolving door of wingers on the other flank.
The elite-level skill from such a young player like Newhook has helped Aube-Kubel provide that offensive punch that he’s capable of.
He had just 28 points in 102 games spanning four years in Philadelphia — a number he could very well reach with the Avs just this year if he continues to produce at his current pace.
“He’s really fast and has a lot of skill,” Aube-Kubel said of Newhook. “He sees the ice really well. On my first goal, he made basically the whole play. I just had to put it in, it was pretty easy.”
Aarif Deen is our Colorado Avalanche beat reporter. He covers Avs games live from Ball Arena and attends practices, media availabilities and other events pertaining to the Avs on the daily beat. He is also a co-host of Hockey Mountain High: Your go-to Avalanche Podcast. Deen joined Mile High Sports upon completion of his bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s in business administration from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Before Mile High Sports, Deen worked for the Michigan Wolverines Athletics Department as the assistant sports information director.
Follow him on Twitter @runwriteAarif