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2019-20 Player Review: Michael Raffl does it again

Yep, still good.

New York Islanders v Philadelphia Flyers - Game Two Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

We’re back again with another season review, and if we need some good thoughts for our Monday, well, we’ve got some here. What can we say about Michael Raffl? He’s nothing if not consistent, he’s been good for his whole tenure with the team, and he delivered yet another solid season this year. It wasn’t perfect, but he is a player that you know what you’re going to get from him, and for the most part, that was true again this season. But that’s enough introduction, let’s get right into the breakdown, shall we?

All stats via Natural Stat Trick. Scoring numbers are for the regular season and playoffs, advanced stats just for the regular season.

By the numbers

Basic Stats

Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM Shots on Goal Shooting Percentage
Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM Shots on Goal Shooting Percentage
67 12 13 25 12 58 10.34%

Overall, the scoring numbers here are solid, considering the role Raffl was asked to play. He did jump around a bit in the lineup, had a chance to play on a number of different lines, but (as we should expect by now) was able to find some success wherever he was placed. Raffl is the prototypical utility depth player who can chip in a nice bit of scoring while also making sure to play a responsible game, and that’s exactly what he delivered this season.

We may also remember—even if this somehow feels like it was a thousand years ago at this point—that Raffl had kind of a huge playoffs, relatively speaking. His five points in nine games put him ninth in team scoring and seventh among forwards, but second in Points/60—with 2.55—behind just Kevin Hayes. Now, nine games is a really small sample, so we don’t want to go too crazy over those numbers in such a small sample, but it’s something. The Flyers struggled pretty mightily to score consistently during the playoffs, and Raffl was one player that was pretty consistently giving them a chance to do so and stay in their games when he was on the ice. That probably also says something about the overall state of the team when one of your players who is typically regarded as a useful depth scorer is leading the offensive charge, but that’s a story for another day. We liked Raffl’s play, so that’s our focus here.

5v5 Individual Stats

Goals/60 Points/60 Shot Attempts/60 Expected Goals/60
Goals/60 Points/60 Shot Attempts/60 Expected Goals/60
0.58 1.55 8.02 0.54

5v5 On-Ice Stats

Corsi-For% Corsi-For% Rel Expected Goals-For% Expected Goals-For% Rel Goals For% PDO
Corsi-For% Corsi-For% Rel Expected Goals-For% Expected Goals-For% Rel Goals For% PDO
49.29 -2.05 48.49 -9.87 46.15 0.984

And here, looking at some of these underlying numbers, we have something of a mixed bag. The individual point and goal rates are very good, and the shot impacts are just fine—not stellar, but fine, just about in line with what the rest of the players in the bottom six were contributing, so we can at least say he was holding his own there.

The on-ice numbers, though, aren’t quite as solid. They aren’t positively abysmal, but they do tell us that the opponents did get the better of the share of shot attempts and high danger chances (as well as goals), when Raffl was on the ice. It wasn’t always by a massive margin, but it’s still something. And what’s even more noticeable, perhaps, is that these numbers are low, relative to what his teammates were averaging. It wasn’t enough to add up to this season being an ugly one for Raffl, and it might not even be something to be worried about going forward (considering what we know about how historically he has played a very responsible, well rounded game), but it is something we’ll keep an eye on next season.

Three burning questions

Did this player live up to our expectations this season?

Are we detecting a theme here? Raffl is nothing if not consistent, and he delivered on expectations this season yet again. Even though he did miss some time with injury, we can come away from this season generally feeling pretty positive about his impacts. The underlying numbers were down a bit, but they weren’t absolutely terrible, we’re not coming away thinking “wow, this is a player that can’t hang anymore and is clearly a liability on the ice.” He had a fine season, and even as the numbers were down a bit, he still did just about all we could have asked of him, looking at the big picture. There was a lot of flux in the bottom six this season with the host of injuries and call-ups from the Phantoms filtering in and out, but Raffl (when he was healthy himself) provided some stability there. He stuck to his game, and the results were solid, on the whole, as always.

What do we expect from this player next season?

More of the same! Raffl has one more year left on his current contract, so he’s sticking around for a bit longer, and we can reasonably expect that his role will remain the same—ideally floating around the bottom six, wherever the team needs him, providing some stability for some of the younger players while also chipping in a bit of depth scoring, to boot. This season’s going to be an interesting one, for a number of reasons, but particularly because of the fact that the Flyers will have a couple of openings, and are set to inject even more youth into an already pretty young forward corps. So it isn’t clear exactly where Raffl’s going to figure into the lineup, but he’ll have a chance to make sure he’s doing what he does best—making sure he’s taking care of the details and stabilizing his line, whoever else may be on it.

What would we like to see this player improve on?

At the risk of sounding like we’re beating a dead horse here, we’ll just make this point one more time before we go—Raffl’s whole thing is that he brings a really complete game, can do a bit of everything, can play anywhere in the lineup, and find success therein, and that also means that there really aren’t any big pieces in his game that we can point to and say “yeah, that needs work.” He does all of the little things right, as we like to say, so there’s really no need to quibble over much of anything here (and not that, if we could, that would be particularly useful, given where he’s at in his career).

We’d like to see some of those underlying shot rates bounce back next season, that’s really the one piece we can point to, and hopefully that can happen with a bit more stability in the bottom six. Strange things can happen and there’s bound to be a bit of flux no matter what, but we can hope for some more stability, right?