Rolling along with the “Flyers Keepers” series, we take a look at another Flyers forward, this time with a different type of situation. For argument sake, let’s operate under the assumption that Michael Raffl will be under contract for the 2021/22 season. Let’s also assume his contract will be around the same as his current $1.6mil cap hit, or slightly under. Now, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of protecting or exposing Raffl come expansion draft time.
Raffl has seen time on every line for the Flyers. He’s even played both sides of the special teams coin as well. Obviously Raffl is now a mainstay in the bottom six, but his capability to slide up and down the lineup is as valuable an asset as they come. Players like that don’t just grow on trees, so having one is definitely a positive.
While he isn’t the flashiest and won’t put up the most points, he’s absolutely serviceable in any role you put him in. He’s battles along the boards, can play wing or center, and has some handles that not many people knew of before this beauty of a shootout goal.
Take everything mentioned in the prior section, and add in the fact that Raffl is currently making $1.6mil a season. Now, take into account how his next contract may be even less, and you’re looking at some solid value for a bottom-six forward.
In Raffl, you have a jack of all trades at a cheap cost. Forwards of that caliber are few and far between. He’s a valuable asset for the Flyers, and letting him go for next to nothing might not be the best idea. While the world will still turn, it will be difficult to find someone with the NHL experience that Raffl has to fill his role on the team.
Is There Room?
This seems to be the key argument surrounding the fringe players who aren’t necessarily guaranteed a protection spot. With the Flyers, you have some budding young forwards who are on the cusp of breaking into the NHL. If the Flyers decided to keep Michael Raffl, it could inhibit them from bringing up a younger player with the potential to make a bigger impact.
Carsen Twarynski and Connor Bunnaman have already seen time with the Flyers, as has German Rubtsov. Rookies like Tanner Laczynski and Wade Allison are two top names that might be battling it out for a roster spot come the beginning of the season, whenever that happens. If Raffl is still here, none of those guys get the chance to test their mettle in the NHL.
Too Many “Do-It-All” Guys
Sure, having multiple players who can do it all sounds like a great idea. Factor in the fact that the Flyer lack certain other types of players, and they’re just plugging a roster spot for that type of player. With Scott Laughton, you have essentially a better Raffl. He can slide up and down the lineup, along with playing on the powerplay and penalty kill. To a lesser extent, Nicolas Aube-Kubel can float around on the bottom-six, and could be primed for an expanded role with the Flyers next season. The best example of a do-it-all type is Sean Couturier. He’s the top-line center, plays the powerplay, and is more than capable on the penalty kill. It’s tough to justify protecting a player like Raffl when you have others who are that type of player, but arguably better.
Michael Raffl found himself exposed in 2017 for the Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft. Factor in the no-movement/no-trade clauses that needed protection, and it makes sense. Four years later and the Flyers face losing another player to the Seattle Kraken expansion draft. It’s never an easy decision to come to terms with losing the players you leave exposed, but each player subject to being chosen has a reason why they were left unprotected. Michael Raffl may have seen his best years come and go, and that may factor into Chuck Fletcher’s reasoning behind his decision on the Austrian forward.
Photo Credit – Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire