Philadelphia Flyers Final Player Grades: Michael Raffl

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

It’s highly unlikely that the NHL will resume its 2019-20 regular season, so we can now fully evaluate the performance of the Philadelphia Flyers. Today we look at forward Michael Raffl.

It’s pretty hard to believe that we’ve seen Michael Raffl on the Philadelphia Flyers for seven years, as it’s usually only star players who stick in one place that long in the NHL these days. Role players in the mold of Raffl usually tend to bounce around, which at least shows that teams want what they provide. But for some reason, the Flyers just seem to love the guy. And that’s fine, as long as his role is a clearly defined one.

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Earlier in his career, he showed a decent scoring touch, topping out at 21 goals in 67 games as a 26-year old back in 2014-15. But ever since then, he’s had to develop into something different, an occasional offensive contributor who can be relied on to at least play sound defensively (especially on the penalty kill) while making sure the Flyers’ lower lines don’t get bested by the opposition.

In 2018-19, Raffl had what was probably his worst season to date, though he wasn’t the only Flyer to underachieve during that particular campaign. Still, in the waning days of that regular season, the Flyers agreed to a 2-year contract extension with him. The reaction from fans ranged from “why?” to “who cares?”, a solid indicator that Raffl was largely viewed as expendable by just about everyone aside from the Flyers’ front office.

Given this new lease on life, Raffl did about as well as anyone could have hoped for in 2019-20, with his modest 20 points in 58 games representing his best scoring rate in four seasons while he also endured his annual multi-week injury. Aside from that, his defensive game was as strong as ever, his limited ice time of 12:22 per game helping the Flyers to get the most out of him without overexposing him.

There’s always a place in this league for competent and relatively cheap players who can get the job done and essentially break even while they’re on the ice so that the team’s top players can be difference-makers. For the past several years, Raffl has been a good soldier for the Flyers, even if literally nobody has thrown any appreciation his way during that time.

Raffl isn’t a complete player, so he’s never going to earn top marks. But he graded out pretty well this year relative to his overall importance on the team. He clearly didn’t take his spot in the lineup for granted, and he worked hard to contribute in the ways that he was able to.

MICHAEL RAFFL. C. <strong>Even though he’s approaching 500 games with the Flyers, Michael Raffl will go down as one of those guys who is probably forgotten shortly after he leaves town, whenever that ends up being. But the 31-year old veteran held enough value this year to show the Flyers that extending his contract was a sound decision. He looks like he can maintain this kind of play for at least one more year. And the Flyers are hoping that he does.</strong>. LW. Philadelphia Flyers

Next. Flyers Grades: Nicolas Aube-Kubel. dark