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Has Nicolas Aube-Kubel found a home in Colorado?

Through ten games the early returns are positive

Colorado Avalanche v Seattle Kraken Photo by Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images

It has now been ten games with the Colorado Avalanche and a little less than a month since Nicolas Aube-Kubel was claimed off of waivers from the Philadelphia Flyers. While the Avalanche enduring the seemingly never-ending injury carousel should give Aube-Kubel security on the roster his performance has warranted perhaps a permanent stay in Colorado.

Two goals and two assists, all at 5v5, is more than the one assist Aube-Kubel contributed in his seven games with Philadelphia. He is seeing a little more time on ice in Colorado with an average of just over 11 minutes per game versus 9:37 in his previous home. Aube-Kubel has fit in the lineup mostly on the third line and has seen the bulk of his time with teammate Alex Newhook. They have generally performed well together holding up 52.57% of expected goals while together.

Looking a little further into Aube-Kubel’s on ice results he has certainly benefitted from departing Philadelphia’s downward spiral going from a 43.41% Corsi For to a respectable 52.48% in Colorado. Expected goals is an even more dramatic improvement going from 33.56% in Philadelphia to 54.81% now. Naturally going to a winning team helps this but Aube-Kubel has improved in relative measures as well. His PDO has taken a massive jump especially due to improving an on-ice shooting rate from 3.70% to 9.52%. This is where the gamble the Avalanche took on some poor shooting luck and low skill teammates would look better in Colorado, and it has. Now the next step is to turn the solid play into more offense generation and time on ice with perhaps some time on the penalty skill, which is a must for Avalanche role players.

Where Aube-Kubel needs to improve moving forward is to cut down on taking minor penalties. This was always part of his reputation but his rate has almost doubled since arriving in Colorado. Some of it is the Avalanche draw but give back a fair amount of penalty calls in return but also that Aube-Kubel’s brand of physicality lends itself to minor infractions. Part of playing aggressive makes it understandable but if he can make some improvements in this area should lead to more trust and minutes.

All in all the Avalanche pounced on a player underutilized on a sinking team who fits well into their system and adds a little different element in their bottom six while complimenting the likes of Alex Newhook and Tyson Jost. Getting a NHL quality player for free is a positive and if Aube-Kubel continues on an upward trajectory could be on a Matt Nieto type path as someone who turned a waiver claim situation into a long-term home.