Rubtsov, a 24-year-old center, was taken 22nd overall in 2016 with the upside of being a high-end, two-way middle-six center. Things have never quite panned out for him at the professional level, though, as his AHL production had steadily decreased over the past few seasons. The Flyers dealt Rubtsov to the Florida Panthers as part of the Claude Giroux trade last season.
Down the stretch, Rubtsov had just one goal in six regular-season and playoff games with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers. It wasn’t enough to convince the Panthers to issue him a qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent this summer.
At 24, Rubtsov is nearly in his prime already. Although it is just a one-year deal, it’s extremely likely that Rubtsov’s chance at an NHL career, or even a career in North America, is completely gone. There’s always the chance that a move back home and a different system is able to help Rubtsov rediscover his game, but it would have to be a magnificent step forward for an NHL team to come calling for him next offseason.
Next season in Moscow, Rubtsov will join a Spartak team that’s made the playoffs for the past five seasons.