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2023-24 Rink Wrap: Nicolas Aubé-Kubel

Mar 6, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Washington Capitals right wing Nicolas Aube-Kubel (96) and Los Angeles Kings center Quinton Byfield (55) fights for the puck during the first period at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

From Alexeyev to Wilson, we’re taking a look at and grading the 2023-24 season for every player who laced ‘em up for the Washington Capitals for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2024-25. Next up, Nicolas Aubé-Kubel.

The Bio:
#96 | Right Wing | Shoots: Right
Height: 6’0” | Weight: 207 | Born: May 10, 1996
Birthplace: Slave Lake, Alberta | Acquired: Claimed off waivers (from TOR) on November 5, 2022
Cap Hit: $1,225,000 | Signed Through: 2023-24 | Expiry Status: Unrestricted Free Agent

The Scouting Report (via CapFriendly):
Report: November 2023 | Rating: 68 | Projection: Fourteenth/Minor League Recall

  • Depth forward.
  • Minor league recall / 4F
  • Skates well. Provides energy. Doesn’t produce much offensively. Has struggled to find a role on the PK.
  • A 13F.
via CapFriendly

The Stats:

Regular Season

The Charts:

via JFresh Hockey
via HockeyStatCards
via Evolving-Hockey
via Evolving-Hockey

The Key Stat: Aubé-Kubel skated an average of 12:12 this season, the most he’s skated on average in his six-year career.

The Good: In his second season with the Capitals, Aubé-Kubel actually put together one of the better campaigns he’s had since making his NHL debut back in 2018-19. He posted his second-highest assist and point totals and his third-best goal total, while playing in 60 games – the second-most he’s dressed for in a single season. He also finished the season with the third-highest GF% at five on five among all Caps (min. 10 GP) at just over 55%.

Aubé-Kubel also had a relatively disciplined season, being whistled for just 23 penalty minutes, his lowest PIM/GP and Pen Taken/60 rates (well, second-lowest behind the zero penalties he took in just nine games back in 2018-19). And while he didn’t sit in the penalty box a ton, he did do a decent job of getting the other team to do so, drawing a career-high 14 penalties this season.

Also, his wife, Madison, has the best gameday fits. Hands down.

The Bad: Yes, Aubé-Kubel had one of his best seasons offensively… but the bar is fairly low there, and what amounted to basically the second-best season of his career still only resulted in 16 points (6 G, 10 A). That checks in as the lowest point total of any Caps’ forward who appeared in at least half of the team’s games this season, and considering how bad the team’s offense was overall this season… yeah, it’s not pretty.

Not surprisingly, that low output was evident in pretty much all of his underlying stats, as well, with an xGF% at evens of 41.8%, a five-on-five SCF% of 44.7%, and a CF% of 43.3%. Not great, Bob (although somehow still better than his frequent fourth-line ‘mates, Nic Dowd and Beck Malenstyn).

With all of that, you may be wondering why he was able to hit his highest average ice time – but then you remember the injuries the Caps experienced this year, and the fact that they just didn’t have the bodies (or the cap space) needed to ice a competitive team most nights (especially post-deadline) and it just tracks. Not to be mean (love you, NAK) but he was a regular in the lineup because there was basically no one else.

The Video: While he doesn’t score very often, the goals Aubé-Kubel does score tend to be pretty as heck.

The Discussion: With Aubé-Kubel set to become a UFA on July 1, do the Caps have the roster space and/or cap space to bring him back in 2024-25? If they do bring him back, what do you see as a reasonable cap hit and term for someone in his role? And finally, what would it take for you to give Aubé-Kubel a 10 next season?

The Vote: Rate Nicolas Aubé-Kubel below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season – so if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.

How would you rate Nicolas Aubé-Kubel's 2023-24 season? (Ratings will be revealed after all Rink Wraps have been completed.)

Talking Points