WASHINGTON — Just a few minutes into his Washington Capitals debut, Nicolas Aube-Kubel endeared himself to fans in an instant as he threw Evander Kane to the ice with a big open-ice hit in Monday’s impressive 5-4 win over the Edmonton Oilers.
Not only did the hit impress those watching closely, but the 26-year-old also got to introduce his gritty playing style in a big way, showing in two seconds what he would bring to the table with his new club.
As for the check, he said he was a bit shocked to see Kane go down hard like that.
“Yeah, usually he’s a little tougher on his skates than that,” he said. “I don’t know, maybe I surprised him. No, it’s part of my game and yeah, that can show there. Good thing.”
that'll endear you to the locals quick pic.twitter.com/hwzFH8FL8U
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) November 8, 2022
In 10:19 minutes skating on the third line with Anthony Mantha and Lars Eller, Aube-Kubel registered two shots and a whopping hit. He said that he’s already feeling more confident than he did in his six-game run in Toronto, where he had 21 hits.
“Yeah, I felt already better on the ice. Way more confidence I feel like that the coach has in me,” the forward said. “I’ve been thrown out there a little more than — I’m pretty satisfied with 10 minutes, which is not that much but still, it’s easier to get in the game when you play that much. We saw that in the first. Second period was a little bit harder with all the penalties, but I understand that, and it’s part of my role.”
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After winning the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche and recording a career-high 22 points in 67 games following a trade from the Philadelphia Flyers in 2021-22, Aube-Kubel signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Maple Leafs. However, it didn’t work out, as he went on waivers. Washington claimed him amidst an influx of injuries.
“I get a second chance, and I’m all out for it. I did that last year, and I had the best year of my career in Colorado. I’m just hoping to do the same thing here this year,” Aube-Kubel said, adding, “For me, I’m ready to fit in early and have an impact and play well. I haven’t played much in my time in Toronto, so just to have ice time and play well is my priority here.”