The Flyers made official today the signing of QMJHL defenseman Maxim Lamarche, news that broke yesterday. They also announced the signing Michael Raffl, a highly-coveted Austrian prospect who's developed his game in Sweden.
We obviously don't know too much about Raffl given the fact that he's played his entire career in Europe, but the Flyers certainly like him and according to the team they beat out the Nashville Predators for his services. He's played two seasons in Allsvenskan, Sweden's number two league, with Leksands IF, where he scored 24 goals and 46 points in 49 games.
Raffl would have played with the big boys in the Swedish Elite League next season, but instead he'll now likely make the jump to North America, playing for the Phantoms and adjusting to the smaller ice surface. Flyers director of hockey ops Chris Pryor said that Raffl's a late-bloomer but that his impressive season last year and in the World Championships this month for Austria pushed him onto their radar.
"I don't think there's a timeline for guys to develop," Pryor told the Flyers website. "Some guys take longer. We probably had the same questions about Matt Read prior to his first season. It just took him a little longer. A good player is a good player, if he happens to develop later, so be it. At the end of the day, Raffl's a young guy who we can add to our other young guys on the roster and improve our team.
Raffl scored two goals in seven games during the Worlds, including this fifth of six Austria goals in a win over Latvia:
The Flyers feel Raffl can be NHL ready with a little seasoning and a bit of an adjustment period, and we hope that's the case. No way to know, really. Allsvenskan is a good league and Raffl played against some quality competition during the NHL lockout, but that was limited and he's still a 24 year old just now making the first jump across the pond. Hopefully it works out and he can be a contributor on the Flyers, but I wouldn't be shocked if it took some time.