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What Should Maple Leafs’ Fans Expect from Nicolas Aube-Kubel?

When Nicolas Aube-Kubel wasn’t qualified by the Colorado Avalanche, the Toronto Maple Leafs jumped. What should fans expect from him?

On July 13, 2022, the first day of free agency, the Toronto Maple Leafs signed former Philadelphia Flyers and Colorado Avalanche player Nicolas Aube-Kubel to a one-year, $1 million contract. Aube-Kubel was available because the Avalanche, with whom he hoisted (and then dropped to the ice) the Stanley Cup, didn’t tender him a qualifying offer.

During the short time he was a UFA (unrestricted free agent), he had received a number of offers. However, he chose the Maple Leafs because he believed that choice would give him the best chance to win another Stanley Cup.

Last season, split between the Flyers and the Avalanche, he had scored 11 goals and added 12 assists (for 23 points). However, by his own admission, he’s not the kind of player who will put up a ton of points. Instead, it’s his physical play on the ice that pays the bills. That’s evident by his 47 penalty minutes and his 140 hits in 74 games last season. 

Related: Maple Leafs’ Fourth Line? Let These Kids Raise Some Hell

Notorious for Dropping the Cup

Interestingly, although Aube-Kubel is not the only player after a Stanley Cup win to drop the trophy, he’s the most recent. It was an event that was both reported widely and viewed by many fans on television. When Aube-Kubel was carrying the Cup, he lost the handle and it went down just before the Avalanche team photo. It hit the ice just as the Avalanche were lining up for the team picture. [See the event below on Twitter.]

Aube-Kubel actually got a rare chance to play for the Cup because, during what was a great 2021-22 season for him in the end, he was waived by Philadelphia early and then played 67 games with Colorado. Then his season was made even more interesting. Shortly after the parade and the celebration, the Avalanche decided not to qualify him.

Where Will Aube-Kubel Fit with the Maple Leafs?

As noted, look for him to add some scoring to the team. The 5-foot-11, 187-pound forward has only scored a total of 21 goals in 169 NHL games. However, he scored 11 of those goals with the Avalanche last season, so he can provide some secondary scoring.

He likely will be one of a number of depth players who will vie for jobs on the Maple Leafs’ fourth line. (The fourth line seems to me to be one of Maple Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas’ projects this season.) Dubas also signed Adam Gaudette, who had not been qualified by the Ottawa Senators. As well, a number of Toronto Marlies will also vie for a position on that fourth line. Those players include Marlies like Joey Anderson, Nick Abruzzese, Alex Steeves, and Pontus Holmberg. Any of these players could end up on that fourth line.

Related: WHAT THE MAPLE LEAFS MIGHT BE LEARNING ABOUT EXPIRING CONTRACTS

What Were Aube-Kubel’s Thoughts About Signing with the Maple Leafs?

During a recent video conference, Aube-Kubel smiled when he told the Toronto Sun that he needed to overcome two issues if he were going to join Toronto. The first issue is that, although he was born in Alberta, he grew up in Montreal. For him, it’s tough not to think Toronto is the enemy. (from “New Leafs forward Nicolas Aubé-Kubel is warming up the enemy, Kevin McGran, Toronto Sun, 15/07/2022).

Nicolas Aube-Kubel, now with the Toronto Maple Leafs (his Upper Deck RC from 2018-19)

The second issue is that he wanted another chance to win the Cup and he wanted to figure out what team offered him the best chance to reprise his 2022 success. The 26-year-old forward believed that was the Maple Leafs. They quickly became his chosen landing place. As he noted, “They have such a good team” and have a “good chance for the Cup next year.” 

He added that he didn’t “want to go somewhere where we would have a losing mentality or anything like that or just not make the playoffs.”

What Should Fans Expect from Aube-Kubel?

When Aube-Kubel was asked what he believed Maple Leafs’ fans should expect from him, he was confident with his reply. He noted, “I know myself to be physical and fast. … I’m really tenacious. You guys will see it next season.”

That’s an invitation to watch and look if ever I heard one. He should be fun to watch play this coming regular season.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Unfinished Business, Bowen & Avs

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Afp1961

    August 3, 2022 at 7:44 am

    Safe pick up and one that can easily be waived or sent down with no cap hit if he doesn’t work out.

    I’m looking forward to seeing him bring that energy to the 4th line.

  2. gcmgome

    August 3, 2022 at 8:28 am

    The Leafs will once again have a waiver eligibility issue for all of the spare bodies they will have attending camp. Unless the likes of Nick Abruzzese, Alex Steeves, Bobby McMann, Pontus Holmberg and even Nick Robertson have outstanding camps, they will likely be returned to the Marlies due to their waiver exempt status. At least to begin the season.
    All of Denis Malgin, Adam Gaudette, Calle Jarnkrok, Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Joey Anderson are waiver eligible, with the last 3 players on this list almost certain to be claimed if waived for re-asignment.
    I’ve got Jarnkrok skating with the 2nd line, Aube-Kubel replacing Ondrej Kase on the 3rd line and Anderson challenging Wayne Simmonds for the 4th line right wing slot. I also see Gaudette possibly centering the 4th line but have no idea where Malgin might fit in?
    I’m also not sure how the League views Malgin in terms of his clearing waivers?
    One thing is for certain however, the strategy the Leafs are using of picking up unqualified RFA’s and players from the mid-career scrap heap will continue to provide the league with depth waiver claims for the foreseeable future.

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  5. Old Prof

    August 5, 2022 at 1:21 am

    I do like these depth players – and (given the other NHL team’s salary cap issues (too) – there are only a few teams that could/would pick up these players – will they? There will be a ton of players who hit the waiver wire about the same time from all NHL teams.

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