Nicholas Ob-Koppel estimation function

This text was written by him RMNB Crusher Peter Friedrich.

The Washington Capitals have had a wild season, to place it mildly. With practically $30 million in wage cap tied to some type of injured reserve sooner or later, it was as much as the “common guys” to step up and tackle larger roles this season.

New additions to the staff like Dylan Strome, Erik Gustafsson and Sonny Milano confirmed off their abilities together with younger pups like Aliaksei Protas and Alex Alexeyev. However the one participant who I feel has had a big impact on the Caps, however has flown beneath the radar is him Nicholas Op-Koppel.

The Capitals earned NAK waivers from Toronto on November 5 after the ahead failed to attain a single level for the Leafs in six video games. After a rocky begin to his tenure in Washington, which included a three-game suspension for a high-hit on the Lightning’s Cal Foote, NAK cemented himself, for a time, within the lineup as a high-energy puck hound who is not afraid to take some photographs—each on opposing gamers and On the internet.

Whereas his contributions do not essentially present up on the standard stat sheet — NAK has six factors (2g, 4a) in 22 video games performed with plus-minus-plus-six and 29 penalty minutes — he is the form of participant who makes his teammates higher. The Capitals as an entire play higher when it is on the ice. And it goes past simply an eye fixed take a look at; Statistics from “deeper” analyzes just like the one at HockeyViz underpin his sport.

Maybe one of the best instance of that is his affect on Lars Eller:

through Hockey Phys

When NAK and Eller are paired collectively, they play a extra accountable protection and the staff sees a big drop in anticipated targets for the opponent. With the 2 on the ice at 5, the Caps are additionally seeing 60.1 % of shot makes an attempt in comparison with simply 51 % when Eller is away at NAK. That is precisely what you wish to see from the third line of Caps and it is precisely what you get whenever you put NAK in there: quick, pushy hockey with a strong pawn-checking presence. The opposite staff merely would not have a lot possession of the puck when NAK is on the ice.

When Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson returned on January 8, NAK was one of many first gamers out of the lineup. However after just a few video games on the sidelines, he is again. Now, Aube-Kubel was lining up alongside Dylan Strome and Alex Ovechkin on the highest row. It appeared foolish at first, however he would not look all that misplaced.

NAK’s hard-nosed hockey model pairs properly with the Strome’s extra fluid model of play. His physicality and velocity break the ice for Ovi. It helps generate extra scoring alternatives for each Ovi and Strome. It has been two video games, however the streak has seen constructive spreads at five-for-five in each scoring possibilities (+7) and high-risk possibilities (+4).

Placing NAK’s contributions into context with the remainder of the staff, the image of a sledding hound who will do the soiled work begins on the entrance verify. It is very important a staff’s success to have gamers who can fill this position when different gamers, particularly board fighters like TJ Oshie or Nic Dowd, are injured.

Because the season progresses and Aube-Kubel turns into extra comfy in Peter Laviolette’s system (take into accout he received waivers from Toronto and he is studying the system as he goes), I count on we’ll begin to see extra outcomes from NAK as properly. He has two targets in his final 4 matches, which could possibly be a sign that his consolation stage with the staff plan is on the rise and that he’s beginning to construct tangible chemistry all through the squad.

If Aube-Kubel continues to impress along with his play (and placing up extra factors actually will not damage his case), the Capitals will discover themselves needing to make one other large determination this season along with 15 extra free agent choices. they have already got.

At 26, NAK is without doubt one of the youthful gamers within the beginning lineup and will have many extra years of high quality hockey forward of him. And at solely $1 million on the wage cap, he is a discount for what he brings to the ice and might simply be hidden within the minors if his ability wears out.

You can make an argument in comparison with among the Hershey guys ready within the wings to be known as full time, gamers like Beck Malenstyn or Garrett Pilon, Aube-Kubel is overrated. Malenstyn and Pilon every earn about $750,000 – however you must needless to say Aube-Kubel not solely has extra common season expertise than the NHL, he additionally received a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche final yr. (He additionally practically broke the cup, too.)

If the Caps wish to maintain making the playoffs by way of the tip of Ovi’s profession, they’ll want deep gamers like NAK who’ve been there, executed that, and know what it takes to win the postseason on the highest stage.

And at beneath $2 million, the Aube-Kubel could possibly be a kind of guys.

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