The Philadelphia Flyers’ run to the Stanley Cup Playoffs was put on hold in March due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The rest of the sports world was as well. However, recently there have been leagues beginning play around the world.
The CPBL (Chinese Professional Baseball League) started last month, and most recently the KBO League has taken center stage. ESPN is broadcasting some of the KBO games, and the league features some familiar faces for baseball fans.
With that in mind, we wanted to take a look at the current Flyers players that have played in foreign professional leagues.
We’ll start with the Flyers that signed with European teams during the 2012-13 NHL lockout.
Justin Braun is one of the three Flyers players that played overseas during the 2012-13 lockout. The now-grizzled veteran was a young defenseman back in 2012. After playing just 94 NHL games prior to the lockout, Braun signed with Tappara in Finland’s SM-liiga.
Unlike other players who signed with teams in the early stages of the lockout, Braun didn’t sign in Finland until late November, just over a month before the lockout ended. Braun played just six games with Tappara, the eventual runner-up in the playoffs that season, recording three assists and two penalty minutes in those six games.
Tappara lost to Jokerit in the finals, who had both the season MVP and playoffs MVP in net: Antti Raanta. Raanta signed with the Chicago Blackhawks later that summer.
Claude Giroux is another Flyer that joined a foreign league during the 2012-13 lockout. Giroux, along with Danny Briere, signed with Eisbären Berlin in Germany’s DEL at the start of the lockout in October.
Giroux scored four goals and added 15 assists for 19 points in his first eight games with Berlin.
Here is an interview with Giroux after his first eight games in the DEL.
In his ninth game, however, Giroux suffered an injury in his ninth game that marked the end of his play in the DEL. There was initial fear that Giroux’s neck/shoulder injury could be a concussion suffered on a check to the head, but it turned out to be a minor injury. However, Giroux left Germany shortly after the injury and remained in North America until the end of the lockout.
But who can forget Claude singing along to Gangnam Style.
Giroux was coming off of a 93-point season in ‘11-12, and would go on to be named the 19th captain in Flyers history after the lockout.
Eisbären Berlin went on to win the 2013 championship, and the contributions of Giroux and Briere were not forgotten. Members of the Eisbären fan club travelled to Philadelphia with custom jerseys to honor the Flyers forwards.
They even gave Giroux (and Briere) a championship ring.
Jakub Voracek had yet to break out as a star prior to the 2012-13 lockout, which saw him sign with HC Lev Praha in the KHL. While Braun joined his team in November, and Giroux in October, Voracek signed his contract to join HC Lev Praha in the middle of September and debuted on September 20th.
Voracek had a point in each of his first four games in the KHL, and seven points in his first seven games. Unfortunately, Voracek sprained his knee in his seventh game (on October 6th), forcing him to miss just under a month of action.
The forward returned to game action on November 3rd and played with HC Lev Praha until December 30th. In total, he scored seven goals and added 13 assists for 20 points in 23 KHL games.
Robert Hagg also played for a European team during the 2012-13 season, but for a different reason. After playing in the J20 SuperElit for MODO Hockey in 2011-12, he split the 2012-13 season between the J20 SuperElit and the SHL.
The Swedish defenseman was the captain of the MODO Hockey J20 team, recording 24 points (11 goals, 13 assists) in 28 games with them. He also played 27 games in the SHL for MODO Hockey, recording just one point.
He had a similar season the next year with a lot more emphasis on the SHL (and AHL) after being drafted by the Flyers in the second round of the 2013 NHL Draft.
Hagg recorded seven points in just six games in the J20 league, and six points in 50 SHL. After the SHL season ended, he joined the Adirondack Phantoms for his first 10 games of North American hockey. He has played in North America, either the AHL or NHL, since then.
Like Hagg, Oskar Lindblom started his hockey career in his home country of Sweden.
Lindblom played seven seasons in the Brynas IF system, from the U16 team in the 2010-11 season all the way up to the SHL. He made his SHL debut in the ‘13-14 season, splitting time with the junior leagues until his first full SHL regular season in ‘15-16. He played one more SHL season after that in ‘16-17 before coming over to North America. Lindblom was the captain of the U16 team in ‘11-12, and alternate captain of both the J18 team (‘12-13) and J20 team (‘13-14).
Lindblom’s SHL career culminated in the 2016-17 season when he was named the Swedish Forward of the Year. This added to his list of accolades after being awarded the J18 Best U18 Forward (‘12-13) and J20 SuperElit Best Forward (‘15-16).
In total, Lindblom played 141 SHL games and 46 SuperElit games in his career. He totaled 87 points (38 goals, 49 assists) in the SHL and 34 points (14 goals, 20 assists) in the SuperElit.
Lindblom was drafted by the Flyers in the fifth round of the 2014 NHL Draft and made his AHL debut in 2016. He then made his NHL debut in 2018, and has recorded 57 points (30 goals, 27 assists) in 134 NHL games.
We are always #OskarStrong.
Michael Raffl played professional hockey in both his home country of Austria as well as Sweden before signing with the Flyers.
Raffl’s career started with Villacher SV in Austria’s EBEL (Erste Bank Eishockey Liga) in the 2005-06 season, when he played in five regular-season games and three playoff games. He recorded his first EBEL point in the ‘06-07 season, scoring four goals and adding two assists for six points in 43 EBEL games.
He played at least 40 EBEL games in each of the next four seasons, including 43-point and 55-point seasons in ‘09-10 and ‘10-11 respectively.
Raffl then joined Leksands IF in Sweden’s Allsvenskan. He played two years for Leksands IF, recording 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists) in 39 games in his first season. In his final professional season in Europe, he scored 24 goals and added 22 assists for 46 points in 49 games. He also added six points in 10 playoff games.
Raffl signed with the Flyers on May 21st, 2013.