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Trade target: Michael Raffl brings versatility to any lineup

Could the Austrian winger be on the move?

Heather Barry - SB Nation ©

With just one month between now and the NHL trade deadline, the Flyers sit 26th in the league, 7th in the Metropolitan Division, and 14 standings points back from a wild card spot. The rough benchmark to reach the playoffs is generally 93-94 points, however the two teams that currently hold the wild card spot, the Montreal Canadiens and the Pittsburgh Penguins, have played at around a 97-99 point pace thus far, making 93 far from a guarantee at making the postseason. But let’s just say for the sake of argument that 93 points would be enough to make the playoffs this season. To hit that figure, the Flyers would need to pick up just over 72% of their possible remaining points, a far cry from their 45.83 points percentage through the first 48 games of the season, and in terms of wins, they’d need a record of something close to 23-8-3. Is it possible? Absolutely. Is it likely? No, and even then there’s a decent chance that a record as such wouldn’t be enough to get them in.

So that’s where this mini series comes in. Through the rest of the bye week we’ll be taking a bit of a closer look at which players the Flyers may look to move on from, and what they could bring to a playoff-bound team.

Since signing with the Flyers in the Summer of 2013, Michael Raffl has played just about every single role that a forward possibly can, playing all three positions, making appearances on all four lines, and seeing time on both special teams’ units across his six seasons in Philadelphia. And, generally speaking, he’s been successful in whatever he’s been asked to do.

The majority of his minutes coming alongside Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek during his 2014-15 campaign led to Raffl scoring a career high 21 goals and averaging exactly one goal per 60 minutes played at 5-on-5, a rate good enough for 32nd in the league that season. He hasn’t scored more than 13 in a season since, which of course comes with the territory of becoming a staple in the bottom-six of the lineup. Outside of his offensive production, Raffl’s been lauded for his overwhelmingly positive on-ice impact throughout his career.

In 379 games as a member of the Flyers, Raffl possesses a score-adjusted 52.41 Corsi for percent, +3.4 RelT, and a 51.65 expected goals for percent, +3.98% RelT, at 5-on-5, each comfortably placing him top-5 among all Flyers forwards in the last six seasons in such categories. The Flyers have out-scored opponents as well while he’s been on the ice, with a 51.03 goals for percent, if you’re into that being another evaluation tool. But, let’s shift our focus to this season alone since that’d be the player that a team would be acquiring.

While it’s true that his ice time is at an all-time low, averaging just 12:12 time on ice this season, and finishing with below ten minutes in each of his last five games, it hasn’t been due to his play having a massive drop-off — he’s still largely the same player he’s always been, the Flyers just no longer have a spot for him in the top-nine. Of course, having just two non-empty net goals on the season won’t make him standout in a positive light either, but he’s still driving play better than his peers, while arguably seeing his toughest deployment to date.

Michael Raffl 5v5 career stats

Season CF% RelT xGF% RelT D-zone start % CF% QoT CF% QoC
Season CF% RelT xGF% RelT D-zone start % CF% QoT CF% QoC
13-14 3.90 6.44 25.57 48.76 49.85
14-15 6.36 5.82 28.90 48.11 50.26
15-16 4.64 5.47 29.04 49.19 49.92
16-17 2.31 -1.95 27.49 50.34 50.07
17-18 0.69 0.96 29.16 49.17 49.77
18-19 0.02 3.45 37.42 48.30 50.45
“Toughest” deployment factors in bold.

This season Raffl has seen a considerable uptick in defensive zone starts, has faced the toughest competition that he’s seen in his career, and has still been able to push play in a positive direction. Say what you will about his lack of points, but Raffl’s built himself the resume of one of the most consistent depth forwards in the league who, in a pinch, can play up in the lineup without looking that out of place.

So why would the Flyers move him? Well, they’re a team looking to get younger and not only did Raffl turn 30 last month, but he’s also set to become an unrestricted free agent in June. This season he’s been all but locked into a fourth line role, and isn’t likely in their future plans with young forwards on the rise in leagues below.

For a team looking to improve their bottom-six forward corps, Raffl will very likely be one of the better options out there, and in all likelihood would be a bargain-buy. Should you add Raffl, you’d be getting a plus-forechecker who has been one of the Flyers’ most defensively sound forwards over the last few seasons, can play anywhere in your lineup, and would provide a solid option to add to your penalty kill rotation. At a time of the year full of regrettable trades, you could do a lot worse than Michael Raffl.

Data courtesy of