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2016 Draft Prospect Profile: Will Meldonium Scandal Hurt German Rubtsov?

German Rubtsov could be one of the more interesting prospects at this year’s NHL Draft. The Russian centerman possesses a strong two-way game – so much so that some scouts call him the best two-way player in this year’s class. He has drawn comparisons to Pavel Datsyuk with his magic on the puck and vision on the ice.

Rubtsov also comes with a risk. He was slated to be on Russia’s U18 National Team for World Juniors, but the entire team did not make the trip to the U.S. for the tournament, allegedly because of doping. Rubtsov was viewed as the top player on the team. The drug in question was rumored to be meldonium which was put on the banned list as of January 1, 2016 by WADA. The Russian federation has not released the names of who on the team tested positive, so it is entirely positive Rubtsov was not one of the players using meldonium. Because of this uncertainty, some analysts predict Rubtsov could fall out of the first round.

Position: C
Current Team: Team U-18 – Russia
Date of Birth: June 27, 1998
Place of Birth: Chekhov, Russia
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 174 lbs
Shoots: Left

What The Scouts Say

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. – Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst

German Rubtsov plays a strong two-way game, highlighted by his strong hockey sense. Offensively he makes smart plays with the puck, showing off good vision, and excellent anticipation of where his teammates will be. This makes him a very good playmaker. Rubtsov has the ability to control and protect the puck with excellent stick handling. He is very patient and slows the game down, waiting for teammates to get open and then making tape-to-tape passes to the now open teammates. He also has the ability to find soft areas in the defence and get open to make a play, or take a one-timer. He has a good arsenal of shots, including a strong wrist shot, snap shot and slap shot. He gets his shots off quickly with an excellent release. Rubtsov shows a high compete level, he battles hard for loose pucks and is effective at forcing defencemen into mistakes on the forecheck. – Ben Kerr, Last Word on Sports

A Good Fit in Columbus?

The Jackets sit at #34 overall (4th pick of the 2nd round) and could be in prime position to pick up Rubtsov, should he fall as some think he will. Teams will do their homework on his potential involvement with the Team Russia scandal and assess the risk appropriately. Rubtsov may not have the elite offensive potential the Jackets are looking for in a franchise center, but center depth is also a big need. It will be interesting to watch the end of the first round and which prospects will be available early in round two. If Rubtsov makes it to #34 he could be the second player drafted for Columbus.

Rubtsov in Action