Michael Raffl's underrated run with the Flyers came to an end Monday at the NHL trade deadline.
The Flyers traded Raffl to the Capitals in exchange for a 2021 fifth-round draft pick. The Flyers will retain 25 percent of the remaining salary on Raffl. The club did not have a fifth-round selection in the 2021 draft after the Nate Thompson trade at last season's deadline.
The 32-year-old Raffl is set to be an unrestricted free agent after this season. As the Flyers have underachieved this season, the veteran forward became a candidate to be moved because of his expiring contract. With a flat-cap world and the Flyers having a chance to get younger in their bottom six next season, it was uncertain if Raffl fit in the club's plans after 2020-21.
Raffl's departure will open the door for some of the Flyers' youth, which will pushing for jobs in 2021-22. It's a good time for the Flyers' coaching staff and management to evaluate because the club still has games that matter. While the Flyers have not met expectations and their postseason odds are not good, they came into Monday four points out of playoff spot. The Flyers will give their roster hopefuls meaningful games.
Tanner Laczynski will get a deserved and extended look moving forward. Another prospect to keep an eye on is Wade Allison, a 23-year-old winger with an NHL release on his shot. He was called up to the taxi squad last weekend and has nine points (four goals, five assists) in eight games at AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley. His NHL debut could be around the corner.
"This gives some of our other players an opportunity to play," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said after the deadline. "Tanner Laczynski's on our active roster now for the rest of the season, so we'll give him a chance to play. There's certainly some other players either on our taxi squad or in Lehigh Valley that, in my opinion, deserve a chance to play and may be able to come up and provide us a spark and play well. I think this is an opportunity for the group that's here to rally around each other and push hard to the end. Certainly an opportunity maybe for some players to continue to play in big roles."
Raffl is on the final year of a two-year deal with a $1.6 million cap hit. He had been a quietly productive player in Philadelphia and does a lot of the little things that contending teams like. Washington entered Monday in first place of the East Division. The Capitals have four more matchups with the Flyers.
"Just can't thank him enough for his eight years of service to this organization," Fletcher said. "A player that played very well for us for many years, moved around our lineup, played left wing, center, right wing, penalty kill, played hurt — played hurt a lot this year, he's hurt right now. Almost refused to be taken out of the lineup. Hopefully Michael gets a chance to have a big role on the Capitals, it's a good opportunity for him. I'd be remiss if I didn't thank Michael Raffl for everything he's done for the Philadelphia Flyers."
At 24 years old, Raffl was signed by the Flyers to an entry-level deal back in May 2013. The Austrian ended up playing 504 career games with the Flyers, more than the likes of Eric Lindros, Paul Holmgren and Dave Poulin.
"I came in here with the attitude, signing a two-way contract, to try and get one game in and be proud of that," Raffl said in March 2019.
His next game, he'll wear another jersey for the first time in his NHL career.
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