Michael Raffl can almost be considered the Swiss Army knife of the Philadelphia Flyers’ offense. He can fill in on the first line in a pinch, play center or play a fine defensive game if need be.
Unfortunately for both Raffl and the team last year, he was hit by the injury bug and only managed 52 games. His points took a hit also, falling to 11, the lowest of his four-year career.
Some of that had to do with injuries, but the Austrian also didn’t play much with Claude Giroux or Jake Voracek, some of his usual linemates in the previous two seasons. Instead, he was shuffled around the lineup often in coach Dave Hakstol’s effort to create any amount of offense.
Still, when Raffl was playing he showed his usual tenacity along the boards and fighting for pucks that made him such a strong complement for Giroux and Voracek to begin with. But like most of the Flyers, bad luck followed him all season.
One surprising stat is that Raffl scored three game-winning goals, despite only scoring eight all season. When he did net one, it typically meant something for Philly.
Because of the amount of bottom-six capable forwards the Flyers had in camp, Raffl was thrown into those roster battles for one of the six spots. However, he had an inside track and now looks like a lock to make the roster.
Last year signified a new role for Raffl. With prospects making the team and Jordan Weal a surprise at the end of the season, the Flyers will no longer need the 28 year old at the top of the lineup.
But like I said earlier, he’s a Swiss Army knife. Raffl shouldn’t have any issues changing into a bottom-six player that helps out on defense and on the penalty kill. And because of the increased depth on Philadelphia’s roster, he should be able to still help out offensively.
Points-wise, last season was not a great indicator of Raffl. Eight goals along with just three assists is far less of what he’s capable of doing. He’s no 50-point — or really 40-point producer — but 11 isn’t him either.
As long as he’s healthy, Raffl should be good for 25 points. That’s assuming he doesn’t see much top-six time, which would increase that amount slightly.
Raffl’s advanced stats have always been strong, indicating a good play-driver. This year, he should prove it even more in an effective third or fourth-line role, something the Flyers have been lacking for years.