Before joining the Philadelphia Flyers as an undrafted free agent in May, Michael Raffl had spent his previous 8 seasons in Europe. He played in his native Austria’s Erste Bank Liga then moved on to play in the Sweden’s second league, AllSvenskan. Had he of stayed in Europe he was poised to move to the Swedish Elite League but instead made the decision to come play in the NHL for the Flyers.
Raffl began garnering the attention of scouts around the NHL during his time in Sweden then put on a fine display at the World Championships playing for his home country of Austria. The Flyers and Nashville Predators were the final two teams vying for his services with the ultimate victor being the Flyers.
Michael Raffl made his NHL debut for the Flyers against the Detroit Red Wings on October 12 and scored his first goal against the Ottawa Senators December 9th.
Here are some brief scouting reports on Michael Raffl to give you some insight on the initial impressions from some talent evaluators.
He plays well defensively without the puck and in his own end, and has spent time on the penalty kill. His offense could use work though, particularly in how quickly he moves the puck. – via Hockey’s Future
[Raffl] has projectable NHL size and knows where to be in the offensive zone in order to produce points. His instincts are very good and he doesn’t shy away from contact. [Raffl] must prove capable of producing over the long haul at the highest level in North America. In order to do so, he’ll need to add bulk and get physically stronger. – via The Hockey News
In Michael Raffl’s short career with the Flyers he’s found himself playing on the Flyers top line with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, playing some power play minutes, and seeing increasing minutes on the Flyers penalty kill. Not a bad resume for an undrafted free agent who is in his first year in the NHL.
Where Raffl has really thrived interestingly enough has been on the Flyers 4th line. Utilizing his speed, he’s allowed the Flyers to keep up their offensive tempo when most teams are just hoping their 4th line can clear the defensive zone. Raffl’s CF% of 52.8 places him 5th on the Flyers above players like Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, and Vincent Lecavalier. Now, I thought that number might be skewed because of the quality of opponents but that’s not the case. Raffl’s Corsi Rel QoC is 0.546, which places him again, higher than the same three forwards I listed previously.
Where Michael Raffl’s career goes from here will be fascinating to follow. While it seems that he has the potential to become a top-six forward based on his defensive ability, the concern will be whether or not he can contribute offensively as well. He is on pace to finish the season with 11 G and 15 A. Just based on the handful of games I’ve seen him play in this season the scouts were pretty accurate in their assessment that he knows where to go in the offensive zone to create scoring chances. The only problem being that during those chances he’s seemed apprehensive to shoot or botched it. I want to attribute those sorts of jitters to him still adjusting to the NHL game but we will see.
If Micahel Raffl can turn himself into a 40-45 point player he will have been a great find by the Philadelphia Flyers organization. I’m looking forward to the continued development of the young Austrian and hope he becomes a productive player for the Orange and Black.
Stats provided by Behind The Net.