Hotshot prospects Morgan Frost, Isaac Ratcliffe, and Joel Farabee are getting most of the attention at the Flyers’ rookie camp. All are gifted and will contend for spots with the Flyers when the main camp opens Friday, and each player was dominant in Sunday’s five-on-five scrimmage in Voorhees.
But don’t overlook German Rubtsov, another prospect who is lurking and is also a candidate for the Flyers’ third-line right-winger spot.
Rubtsov, now 21, was the Flyers’ No. 1 pick (22nd overall) in the 2016 draft, and he was making great strides in his first pro season last year. He collected six goals and 10 points before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in his 14th game with the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Checked hard into the boards early in a win over Providence, Rubstov eventually underwent shoulder surgery and started a long rehab. He stayed in the area after development camp in June and showed his commitment by working out and skating at the Flyers’ practice facility during the summer.
“I did a lot of gym work, a lot of concentration on the shoulders and the knees to get them stronger,” Rubtsov said through Slava Kouznetsov, the organization’s skating coach, at the Flyers rookie camp. “Never give up. Never surrender.”
A natural center, the 6-foot, 203-pound Rubtsov is healthy and said it wouldn’t be difficult to change positions because he has played some wing in Russia’s KHL.
“I’m feeling really good about it,” said Rubtsov, who has been centering Matthew Strome and Pascal Laberge at rookie camp. “I’m 100 percent ready.”
Scott Gordon coached Rubtsov with the Phantoms last year and was impressed with his 200-foot game. His two-way play should eventually land him a spot in the NHL, perhaps even at the start of this season if he excels in the exhibitions.
“We’ll see how he does in the games, but he’s a smart player and that’s one of his strengths,” Gordon said. “I always felt … that even if things weren’t happening for him offensively, he always played well defensively for us. That may not seem like much because you just assume everybody is going to play well defensively, but sometimes it gets in players’ heads when things don’t happen for them offensively and they start to cheat and try to find the easy way to get the offense, and he wasn’t like that.”
Rubtsov has always been a strong defensive player, but at the start of last season, Gordon told him he needed to be more active in the offensive end.
“I changed my game,” Rubtsov said. “Just being good in the defensive zone is not good enough to make the team. Now I’m equally working in both zones.”
And hoping it lands him his first spot on an NHL roster.
Goalie Felix Sandstrom was superb in Sunday’s scrimmage, making a handful of eye-opening stops to deny the line of Ratcliffe, Frost and Farabee. Sandstrom, 22, who has quick lateral movement, will be playing his first full season in North America and is expected to start with the Phantoms. “He’s had a pretty good career in Sweden, and I think everybody is excited to have him over here,” Gordon said. “He looks good.” … The Flyers’ rookies will be off the ice Monday and in the gym; they will be back on the ice at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday and will face the New York Islanders’ rookies Wednesday in Allentown.