Breaking: Flyers Extend Michael Raffl, Sign Farabee to ELC
The Austrain Rocket returns!
Well, technically he never left. But just over 3 months away from becoming an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his NHL career, the Philadelphia Flyers extended Michael Raffl, inking the Austrian winger to a 2-year deal with a $1.6 million cap hit.
Raffl's NHL career started in the lockout shortened 2012-13 season, when he came to the Flyers from Allsvenskan (a European league). Over his career, Raffl has played 406 games, registering 132 points. This year, Raffl has 18 points (6 goals, 12 assists) in 61 games. His best season was back in 2015-16, when he put up 31 points in his only full 82 game season.
The Rafflcopter may not bring a ton to the table in terms of flash and highlight reel plays. But what he lacks on the scoresheet he makes up for in play-driving and versatility. Raffl can play both the left and right wing, and his short-handed time on ice per game is 4th amongst forwards. He also grades out well via advanced metrics - his career Corsi For% is a solid 52.4% (meaning 52.4% of all shots taken while Raffl was on the ice belonged to the Flyers). This year, that number has taken a hit, but Raffl's track record suggests it will hopefully bounce back next season.
While the Flyers do have a few of young forwards (Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Mikhail Vorobyev come to mind) that perhaps could have taken Raffl's role next season, bringing Raffl back helps the Flyers forward depth. Philadelphia certainly does not want to ice players like Phil Varone and Corban Knight (who are better served as AHLers) next year. Raffl may never be an impact player, but he's a quality depth option who is familar with the organization and is coming back on a pay-cut (Raffl is finishing out a 3-year, $2.35 million deal this season).
Farabee Signs ELC
Of course, Raffl was not the only player to sign a contract with the Flyers this week. Left winger Joel Farabee, taken 14th by the Flyers in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft last summer, has decided to leave Boston University after one season and sign his entry-level contract with the Philadelphia Flyers.
First, a couple of details to note about this deal. It does not begin until the 2019-20 season, but I believe Farabee could join the Phantoms for their playoff push by signing an amateur tryout (ATO). Doesn't mean he will, but it might be an option. Second, if Farabee does not play at least 10 NHL games next season, the contract will slide back a year and technically not begin until the 2020-21 season. Finally, on account of the deal not starting until next season, Farabee should still be exempt from the Seattle expansion draft in 2021 (he will have 2 years pro experience by then).
Now, onto the player himself. After a bit of a slow start, Farabee wound up putting up one of the best seasons among freshman in college hockey. Despite an underwhelming season for the Terriers, Farabee put 36 points in 37 games, as well as 5 points in 7 games (including a hat-trick) playing for silver medal U.S.A. at World Juniors, per Elite Prospects. Farabee was a beast for the Terriers on the PK, leading the team in short-handed goals. He said himself that his game translates very well into the NHL level.
By no means is Farabee a lock to make the Flyers out of camp next year. He is probably best regarded as a longshot, partly due to his age partly to his size. Despite adding 14 points from when he was drafted, Farabee is still a 6'1'', 170 lb beanstalk. If he were to make the team, it would likely be at 3rd line left wing. However, he is more likely to begin with a potentially stacked Phantoms team that could also feature Isaac Ratcliffe, Morgan Frost, and German Rubtsov (all former 1st or 2nd round picks).