Realistic Expectations 2016-17: Michael Raffl

Michael Raffl is one of more unheralded Flyers players. A versatile forward who can hang with top line or dominate as a member of the bottom six, he just signed a bargain basement contract that is far less than I personally would have offered him.

Now, with Travis Konecny entering the Flyers forward group and impressing early on with the second line and Brayden Schenn soon returning from suspension, Raffl’s spot on the top line with Giroux and Simmonds likely to be given to Brayden Schenn on his return, it’s very likely Raffl finds himself on the third line with Matt Read and Dale Weise. He centered the third line a bit last season, so moving Raffl down would leave the Flyers with the following likely forward lines:

Schenn-Giroux-Simmonds
Konecny-Couturier-Voracek
Read-Raffl-Weise
Bellemarre-Gordon-Cousins

Lyubimov and VandeVelde would be the extra forwards

Via Own the Puck

Via Own the Puck

Raffl’s a very good player, and as his HERO chart shows, he has a top line possession impact as a player. While he doesn’t have the gaudy scoring numbers, he does score goals at a top line rate. Having Raffl in the bottom six would be a a level of dominant depth, however, he’s also a great insurance policy for injuries in the top six or struggles and growing pains for Travis Konecny.

With 31 points last year, Raffl scored at a low end second line clip in terms of raw points. The low point total is more indicative of his ice time, rather than talent as his rate stats show him as a borderline top line goal scorer.

When it comes to expecations, because Raffl’s so versatile, there’s no real point production to expect. It’s possible his assist total rises, from fluky bounces leading to secondary helpers since he is a dominant possession forward. However, Raffl’s true value will lie in how he replaces top six forwards in injuries, and uses his possession driving ability to shore up weaknesses in the bottom six.

This contract is a bargain and Raffl is one of the most underrated and underappreciated players on the Flyers roster.

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