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2016 NHL Draft: German Rubtsov, Will Nashville Continue Their Recent Trend?

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Nashville has shown a tendency to go after Russian centers in the early portions of the draft with the likes of Vladislav Kamenev (2014, 2nd round) and Yakov Trenin (2015, 2nd round.) Will they continue that trend with the drafting of German Rubtsov?

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  • Position: Center
  • Shoots: Left
  • Height: 6'0.5" (via NHL Combine)
  • Weight: 190 lbs (via NHL Combine)
  • Team: Russia U18 (MHL); rumoured to be heading to North America
  • Hometown: Chekhov, Russia
  • Birth Year: June 27, 1998

German Rubtsov, the Top Draft-Eligible Russian

German Rubtsov is your typical Russian center. First off, he has a great head on his shoulders. He is very strong on both ends of the ice and he uses those smarts to both set up his teammates and give them outlets in the offensive zone.

Between his smarts and fantastic offensive toolkit, Rubtsov is one of the more interesting offensive centers in the draft. Rubtsov is not afraid to drive through the middle of the ice with his good size, shiftiness, and fantastic set of hands. While he is your typical Russian playmaker, if the shot is there for the taking he is more than capable of firing his very solid wrist shot into the back of the net.

Defensively, Rubtsov is not quite as solid but the makings of a two-way forward are there. He is very smart and backchecks well but he could stand to take better advantage of his sizeable frame and be more physical. All in all, Rubtsov projects into a solid top six two-way playmaking center.

Should Poile take a chance on a player with such a cloudy situation?

Quite frankly, it would be impossible to talk about German Rubtsov without talking about the World Championships. In one of the more interesting turn of events in junior hockey, the entire Russian hockey team was disqualified due to something involving the growth hormone Meldonium. This is the same growth hormone Russia tennis player Maria Sharapova failed a drug test for. Now, not much is known about what all went on with the Russian U18 team and it can't be determined that Rubtsov actually took Meldonium but that could be enough to drop his draft stock.

Another thing that further clouds Rubtsov situation is he spent most of the season in the MHL and didn't have that opportunity to shine that the World Championships would have provided. Because of that lack of play against better competition, it is tougher to gauge exactly how good Rubtsov actually is.

On the bright side, Rubtsov has committed to playing in North America (though the same thing was said about Vladislav Kamenev before he was drafted) and that should make teams more accepting of drafting a Russian. Furthermore, he would immediately become the Nashville Predators' top center prospect. With the second line center spot still in question due to Trenin having an unspectacular season and Kamenev progressing at a not quite rapid, but still steady pace, David Poile should definitely be weighing out his options with the extremely talented center.

Tweets and Quotes

Rubtsov is first-round material, a player with excellent hockey sense and puck skills, who has to work on some areas (physical play, faceoffs, overall defensive play), but that has all the tools to become a prolific player even at the NHL level. His smarts will allow him to overcome his small size issues. - Alessandro Russo