Date of Birth: 6/27/98 (17)
Place of Birth: Chekhov, RUS
Ht: 6’0” Wt: 190 lbs
Team: Team U-18 (MHL)
What Scouts See
Rubtsov is a highly intelligent contributor all over the ice. He is a game-changer and a highly competitive kid. He can be a dominant puck-possession guy, a strong puck-distributor, a finisher, a defensive specialist and even a pest at times. He has strong skating ability, as he is fast and agile; he uses his skating on both sides of the puck. The Russian center plays a complete game and commits defensively, getting back and being hard on his man at all costs. Rubtsov gets back with speed and can break up plays unexpectedly from behind with a quick stick lift and puck scoop. He continuously makes great defensive plays before turning back up ice. Rubtsov seems to always be on the puck, and when he is not, he is relentless in getting on it. He pounces on opportunities, taking advantage of loose pucks and time and space, and has an impressive ability to create something out of absolutely nothing. He is strong on the puck and possesses unexpected soft hands in tight. Rubtsov uses his size and strength to protect the puck and fend off incoming checks all while maintaining possession and getting himself in position to try a shot or pass. He uses his long reach to his advantage to break up plays as well as pull the puck back in tight to his body and away from opposing players; he also uses it to keep the puck a distance from the check, increasing his ability to protect it in open ice. Rubtsov has deceptive speed and is quite shifty while moving full steam ahead, making excellent use of his edges to move laterally. He possesses incredible hockey sense, reading the play well and adapting accordingly, showing no quit in his game. Rubtsov picks his spots very well and has a high-velocity shot that he can get off as he moves toward the net, keeping the puck away from his body just enough to unload. He has a creative mind, and can find his man in traffic with crisp tape-to-tape passes. Rubtsov’s on-ice vision, awareness of the game and work ethic are probably his biggest strengths.
It’s kind of nit-picking a little as Rubtsov is such a hard-working guy and tries to do everything well, but he will need some coaching and strength work on his faceoff ability. He does get involved in physical battles, but not consistently as sometimes he would rather use his stick than finish a hit along the boards. Rubtsov would be better served to bring the physical element more consistently as he is a force when he is using his body and playing with an edge.
Scouting report: “He plays a 200-foot game, aware of his defensive duties and is always in good position to retrieve the puck, covering his man tightly in his own zone. A skilled playmaker who can make skilled passes to his linemates or take the puck himself. In the end, the uncontested best Russian prospect this year.”
The Draft Analyst
We don’t know if German Rubtsov is representative of some sort of new breed of Russian-trained forward. What is clearly apparent to us is how “North American” his overall game is, and he’s arguably the 2016 draft’s best two-way forward. Rubtsov has been Russia’s go-to guy when it comes to matching up against top opponents, and why not? He’s been blessed with size and what seems like adult strength despite being only 17 years old. Rubtsov has had plenty of international exposure, winning gold at the 2014 U17’s and contributing mightily to the Russian U18 entry which nearly knocked off Team Canada at the Hlinka semifinals. He was rewarded with a place on the U20 roster for the Four Nations in November, but was kept off Russia’s preliminary list for the 2016 World Junior Championship. He took this disappointment in stride, however, as his two-way play and penchant for stepping up guided the U19 team to the gold medal game at the World Junior “A” Challenge.
He is a very strong skater with excellent acceleration and balance. But mix in his mobility with strength and tenacity, and you get a coach’s dream. Rubtsov is a “big play” center who preys on the weak, and his superior playmaking ability and vision enables him to be used in key situations regardless of which end of the scoreboard his team is on. He’s an extremely competitive leader who will involve himself physically if the game is in need of a momentum shift. Rubtsov has a very good shot which he can wire off his back foot or unload via a slapper, and while he is very accurate in terms of getting it on net, we has a tendency to look for the pass as a primary course of action.
German Rubtsov has all the markings of a top-six forward in the NHL. His talent is undeniable, and he has the attitude to be a top producer. There's every indication that he could end up being an elite player in the league.
Expected Draft Position
If you were to just look at his on-ice performance, Rubtsov would potentially be a top 10 pick. Unfortunately for him, he was a member of the Russian team that was banned from participating in the 2016 IIHF U18 World Champtionship because he and his teammates tested positive for a banned substance. That kind of black mark gives front offices pause, and it will certainly affect his draft position. Currently, he's projected across most ranking services as a high-teens or low-twenties pick.
How German Rubtsov Fits in Avalanche Organization
If German Rubtsov drops to the second round, the Avalanche would be foolish not to select him. He's a complete talent and has that fire that Patrick Roy covets so much. The Avalanche often suffer from a lack of spark, and Rubtsov is someone who might help with that. Unfortunately, it's unlikely he won't be picked up before then. He's far too good for all 30 teams to pass by on their first go-around.