Michael Raffl
Michael Raffl celebrates his first career playoff goal (above), which he scored against his new team, the Washington Capitals. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

RIP to the Rafflcopter. Just before Monday’s 3 PM trade deadline (the deal actually wasn’t reported until about 3:20), the Flyers said goodbye to one of their longest-tenured players. Forward Michael Raffl is going to the Washington Capitals in exchange for the Caps’ 5th round pick. Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported the trade first.

There wasn’t much fan-fare when Michael Raffl arrived in Philadelphia on a one-year entry-level deal in 2013 after a near point-per-game season in the European league HockeyAllsveskan. But Raffl quickly emerged as a very solid player for a Flyers team in desperate need of quality forward depth. After scoring 22 points as a rookie, Raffl spent most of the 2014-15 season on the top-line with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. Giroux and Voracek had the big point totals, but Raffl was no slouch either, putting up 21 goals. The next season, Raffl put up a career-high 31 points, still bouncing around the lineup and doing whatever was asked.

Versatility was the hallmark of Raffl’s Flyers tenure, as the Austrian forward proved to be quite the Swiss Army knife. Raffl bounced from a first-line winger to the fourth-line center and everywhere in between, including the power-play and the penalty kill. Raffl’s underlying numbers early in his career were simply phenomenal. He posted a Corsi For% better than 52% during his first four NHL seasons; his Expected Goals% cleared that bar in his three campaigns (5v5, score and venue adjusted). With the exception of a difficult 2018-19 campaign, Raffl’s underlying numbers have mostly treaded water since usually hovering a shade below break-even since the 2016-17 season.

The Capitals are acquiring Raffl for added depth down the stretch and into the playoffs. Raffl came up huge for the Flyers in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Despite missing several games with an injury and likely playing hurt, Raffl finished tied for second on the team with four goals despite only playing in 9 out of 16 games. He came up clutch down the stretch in 2018, scoring in the last two games of the regular season to help push the Flyers into the playoffs by the skin of their teeth. Raffl also scored one of what should’ve been one of the most iconic goals in recent Flyers memory (the whole bracelet-throwing saga basically spoiled it), scoring 57 seconds into Game 3 of the 2016 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, the first home game after Flyers owner and founder Ed Snider passed away from cancer.

Moving Raffl definitely makes sense. The Capitals are contending for the top of the East Division and another Cup. And the Flyers’ hopes of contention are all but gone, at least for this year. But it’s still sad to see Raffl go. Raffl’s always been beloved by his teammates and is a great presence in the Flyers dressing room by all accounts. Only three current players — Giroux, Voracek, and Sean Couturier — have been Flyers longer than Raffl. And it will certainly be weird to see Raffl likely make his Capitals debut tomorrow against his former teammates.

From all Flyers fans, thank you so much for everything you did for the Flyers, Raff. I’ve spent my entire Flyers fandom cheering for you, and I’ll miss your big smile, the power moves, and the ability to always make the little plays in any situation. I waited six years hoping for the Flyers to win the Cup but begging them to just win a playoff series. It was Raffl who scored the game-winner in that series clincher in Game 6 against Montréal. I’ll always remember him fondly, especially because of that wonderfully greasy goal. I’m just happy it happened. Now go get yourself a Cup, Michael. Long live the Rafflcopter!

Now if you excuse me, I’ll be watching this through teary eyes the rest of the day. It’s just allergies, I swear.

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