Realistic Expectations of Michael Raffl

Photo credit: Amy Irvin (38Photography)

Photo credit: Amy Irvin (38Photography)

Going into next season, Michael Raffl is one player to watch. After scoring 21 goals this past season, it’s possible he’ll break out for even more if used on the top line for a full season.

Via Own the Puck

Via Own the Puck

One thing to note is that Raffl drives possession for his teammates on both offense and defense. He’s a very good two-way player in the truest sense of the word. No matter where you stick him, he finds a way to keep the puck moving towards the offensive zone. Basically, regardless of the zone he’s playing in, Raffl is elevating the play of his teammates.

Via Own the Puck

Via Own the Puck

The Glass-To-Crosby scale shows that Raffl’s possession and scoring impact is positive on his teammates, this means that Raffl isn’t a passenger when he’s on the ice, but rather he is the one who controls play.

Via Own the Puck

Via Own the Puck

Raffl’s HERO chart shows that he has elite influence on his teammates puck possession ability in limited minutes. Raffl’s impact means he’s earned more ice time, especially given he scores goals at a top line rate. In fact, given that Raffl scores at a solid top line rate, expecting him to score 28-33 goals with a full season of top line minutes isn’t unreasonable if he stays healthy.

Also, given he’s a solid possession player and goal scorer, Dave Hakstol would be wise to add Raffl and Sam Gagner to the second powerplay unit with Sean Couturier. The unit struggled last season with Umberger and Lecavalier, but these two on that unit could give the Flyers two top tier powerplay units. Those three aforementioned forwards, with Matt Read and Michael Del Zotto on the points would give the top unit a near run for the money.

Couturier was successful as a net-front player for Team Canada at the World Championships this past spring, Raffl would play in the slot, while Gagner would play on the half wall where Giroux plays on the top unit, leaving Read and Del Zotto on the points. If the Flyers wanted two defenders on the second unit; Brandon Manning or Yevgeni Medvedev could replace Read as Read’s impact is more noticeable defensively anyway.

Raffl’s secretly an elite offensive player; Ron Hextall would be wise to get him locked up before Raffl sees how good he is.

Raffl’s also a bit of an interchangeable player; he can play defensive minutes with Couturier or be the top line left wing the Flyers have lacked since Scott Hartnell was traded. He’s a valuable player and the Flyers are lucky to have him.

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