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2020-21 Player Review: Michael Raffl departs, sadly listens to Billy Joel’s “Vienna”

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Get it? Because he’s from Austria? Please laugh.

Philadelphia Flyers v Washington Capitals Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images

After heading to Dallas in free agency in search of winning a Stanley Cup, Michael Raffl leaves behind an interesting legacy after eight seasons as a Flyer. The non-Swiss army knife and longtime bottom six presence initially departed at the trade deadline, heading to Washington in exchange for a fifth round pick in 2021 that became Ty Murchison.

While many would (fairly or unfairly) tag him as a career just-a-guy, it’s important to remember that Raffl was, at one point, a very effective NHLer. Unfortunately for him and fans of the Orange & Black, that wasn’t the case in 2020-21. Let’s look at why.


By The Numbers

Raffl’s player card.
Image via Evolving-Hockey.com

Basic Stats

GP G A P PIM Shots On Goal Shooting Percentage
GP G A P PIM Shots On Goal Shooting Percentage
44 4 7 11 23 50 8%
Raffl’s combined stats from 2020-21. All data via NHL.com

This year, Raffl’s profile remained what it’s been for a season or so: a perfect example of a highly replaceable bottom six forward. Averaging a quarter of a point per game is about right for that description, and as we’ll see below the on-ice results were largely reflective of the veteran winger’s play driving and analytical impact. It is, however, worth noting that he can still rip it from time to time:

Noted 20 goal scorer Michael Raffl, everybody.

5v5 On Ice Stats

Corsi For Percentage SVA Corsi For Percentage Relative SVA xGF Percentage SVA xGF Percentage Relative SVA
Corsi For Percentage SVA Corsi For Percentage Relative SVA xGF Percentage SVA xGF Percentage Relative SVA
48.46% -0.97% 45.50% -3.27%
Raffl’s metrics at 5v5 SVA with the Flyers in 2020-21. Stats via NaturalStatTrick.com

A strong Michael Raffl season is usually defined by break even play-driving statistics (IE the shot attempts battle) and solid defensive impacts by xGA and CA. In 2020-21, the only real positive in Raffl’s profile was a slightly above average CA/60 by RAPM. In just about every other aspect of his play, No. 12 was below replacement, explaining his eventual placement in the 10th percentile of GAR and 34th percentile of xGAR. These are the numbers of a true JAG depth piece.

5v5 Individual Stats

Points/60 Primary Points/60 Shot Attempts/60 xGF/60 xGA/60
Points/60 Primary Points/60 Shot Attempts/60 xGF/60 xGA/60
1.25 0.94 7.2 1.82 2.18
Raffl’s individual metrics while in Philadelphia for the 2020-21 season. Stats via NaturalStatTrick.com

By Natural Stat Trick’s model, Raffl was among the worst defensive forwards in the league according to xGA/60. That’s less than ideal stuff from a guy who isn’t in possession of a dynamic trait like plus skating or skill to separate himself from the pack.


Three Questions

Did they live up to our expectations?

The answer to this depends on what you thought Michael Raffl was capable of entering 2020-21. For us here at BSH, the answer was a resounding no. While nobody expected Raffl to produce outstanding numbers in any capacity, the assumption was made that he would be an effective fourth line forward as a complimentary piece. His numbers and the eye test corrected that as a mistaken assertion.

What do we/can we expect next season?

Nothing. Michael Raffl is gone, which means that, barring a trade, nobody ever again has to listen to Flyers fans whine about him getting paid a little bit more than $1 million AAV on a two-year deal.

How would you grade their 2020-21 season?

After giving Raffl a C in our player grades back in May, he repeats with a C here. While he was inarguably a below replacement player, he was far from the only Flyer to have a bad year and looked much better on the Capitals. Michael Raffl was whatever, and he deserves a whatever grade.