With the trade deadline now just a little more than four weeks away, the chatter is beginning to intensify. What moves will be made? Will Wayne Simmonds be traded or resigned? Is there any way the Flyers can move Jake Voracek’s contract? The questions go on and on. One name not mentioned a lot though is Michael Raffl’s and that doesn’t quite make sense.
Raffl, who is now in the middle of his sixth season with the Orange and Black, is having a rough go this year. He got hurt back in late October and was out exactly a month with what the team referred to as a lower-body injury.
Things haven’t been too great offensively for him either this year. In 35 games played, Raffl has tallied only eight points (3 goals, 5 assists). It doesn’t help that he’s spent most of the season on the third and fourth lines, but you have to think Raffl would have contributed more than this.
The upside to having a guy like Michael Raffl is that he’s a solid penalty killer. The Flyers were god awful when Raffl was out with an injury, but ever since returning, the PK has been a bright spot. Give Raffl lots of credit for that. There are plenty of teams that are either in playoff position now or are on the cusp of being in a position that need to improve their penalty kill.
Here are five teams that are either currently sitting in a playoff spot, or are extremely close to one, that need to improve on the PK:
New York Islanders:
1st Place in the Metropolitan Division
Ranked 22nd in the NHL on the PK: 78.7%
2nd Place in the Metropolitan Division
Ranked 23rd in the NHL on the PK: 77.7%
Currently, hold the 2nd Wild Card spot Western Conference
Ranked 26th in the NHL on the PK: 77.1%
1st Place in the Pacific Division
Ranked tied 20th on the PK: 79.0%
2nd Place in the Central Division
Ranked 16th in the NHL on the PK: 79.9%
The offensive side of his game could also come alive if put with the right linemates. Last year he put up a total of 22 points in 76 games played. Thirteen of those points were goals. Going back to the 2014-15 season, Raffl potted 21 goals in 67 games played. That is his career high. The bottom line is that Raffl can chip in offensively when on a solid line that is made up of playmakers.
Getting rid of the 30-year-old RW would make total sense at this point. He’s an unrestricted free agent following this season and the Flyers most likely will not be re-signing him. It’s better to get something for him rather than nothing.
So when talking about trade candidates, don’t forget to include the Austrian native in your conversation. A Michael Raffl trade may be just around the corner.
The Flyers are in the middle of there bye-week/all-star break and will not resume play until Monday night when they face Patrik Laine and the Central Division-leading Winnipeg Jets. With a win on Monday night, the Flyers will have won four straight for the first time this season. Puck Drop is at 7 PM.
As always, Lets Go Flyers!
Photo Credit: Alex Mclntyre