Flyers Sign RFA Aube-Kubel, Stewart to PTO
Are you ready for a blockbuster move Flyers fans????
Well, these two aren't that. Not even close. But the last two days the Flyers announced two minor signings. RFA Nicolas Aube-Kubel signed a 1-year, $750K contract. The club then signed veteran right winger Chris Stewart to a pro-tryout contract.
Let's start with the new guy. Stewart brings plenty of experience to the table, having played 10 NHL seasons in six different sweaters. He was known as a bruising, physical winger who could score a little bit (other than one insane 64 point season in 2009-2010). For most of his career, Stewart was a solid bottom-six forward with some old school snarl, though advanced metrics were not his friend. He was also traded for and extended by the Minnesota Wild when Chuck Fletcher was still their GM.
However, Stewart has not played in the NHL since 2017-18. The 31-year old spent all of last season with the Nottingham Panthers of the EIHL, scoring 13 points in 23 games.
For those who don't know, a PTO (professional tryout) is basically the most low-risk contract a club can offer. Stewart will report to the Flyers training camp in September. If he plays well, the Flyers can offer him a contract (probably around 700K, the league minimum salary). If not, he can be cut, no strings attached.
Stewart probably won't be anything more than a warm body at camp to serve as motivation for prospects like Frost and Farabee to compete with. Maybe he inks a cheap deal to be a healthy scratch or a veteran presence in Lehigh Valley. Maybe he's the next Alex Chiasson, who scored twenty-two goals a year ago with Edmonton, who he joined on a PTO last fall. But the first two options are the heavy favorites.
While RFAs Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov have dominated the talks of Flyers fans the last few weeks, there was still one more RFA in need of a new deal. That was Nicolas Aube-Kubel, a second round pick of the Flyers in 2014. NAK has put up back-to-back strong seasons in the AHL, and even earned a 9-game NHL audition last fall, where he failed to score a point.
Aube-Kubel is a feisty winger who is not afraid to go into the dirty areas despite his size (5'11''). Personally, he reminds me of Michael Raffl: a good-two way forward who can score a little bit and kill penalties.
Aube-Kubel is no longer waiver-exempt, meaning that if the Flyers wish to send him down to the Phantoms, all 30 NHL teams would have a chance to claim him for free. However, sitting in the press box for the majority of the season isn't appealing, either. Ideally, NAK would rotate on the fourth line with Raffl and Tyler Pitlick, but he'll need a strong training camp to turn that into a reality.
Signing NAK and Stewart simply give the Flyers more options at filling out both their NHL and AHL rosters. Neither (especially Stewart) will likely have a major impact on the Flyers season. But both have a role to fill - Aube-Kubel as either a solid fourth-liner or a dominate AHLer, and Stewart as a mentor to the kids, whether it be for a few weeks or a whole season.