Flyers

Michael Raffl signs 2-year extension with Flyers

Michael Raffl signs 2-year extension with Flyers

Chuck Fletcher is in the process of identifying which players will be part of the Flyers' future moving forward, and those who aren’t. 

Versatile winger Michael Raffl is one of the Flyers the new executive VP and GM wants to keep around.

The Flyers and Raffl agreed on a two-year, $3.2 million extension Tuesday, roughly a 32 percent pay cut from the three-year, $7.05 million contract that expires at the end of this season.

Why isn't Raffl worth more?

For starters, Raffl has played the full 82-game slate only once in his six seasons with the Flyers. He has also seen a significant dip in ice time this season, averaging 11:38 through 61 games played and has been utilized primarily in a bottom-six role.

When Raffl signed his current three-year contract in February of 2016, he was more of an offensive contributor coming off a career-high 21 goals playing alongside Claude Giroux.

In the proceeding three years, Raffl, now 30, has scored just 27 goals, including a career-low six this season.

You can also argue that Raffl doesn’t always play with a high motor consistently.

Flyers still get a bargain

However, you won’t find many veterans who bring the versatility of Raffl, capable of playing both left and right wing while contributing on the penalty kill, and he doesn’t hurt a team with undisciplined penalties. 

He’s also a big-body forward with a penchant for playing physically, winning board battles, while using his size to carve out space in front of the net. For a player listed at 6-foot, 200 pounds, Raffl plays bigger than his size at times.

Raffl is also a good locker room presence known to have a loose sense of humor, bringing a lighthearted approach. His signing fills a depth role, and according to Cap Friendly, the Flyers now have 14 players under contract with roughly $31 million in cap space to work with.

If the Flyers plan on being active in free agency, they also need some lower-tiered salaries to provide the necessary space. Give Fletcher credit for ridding the organization of Dale Weise’s lengthy contract, while signing Raffl to a modest two-year deal through 2021.

Clearly, there was a comfort level with Raffl, who chose comfortability with the organization, as opposed to testing his value on the market.

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Subpar start leads to Flyers loss vs. Lightning but doesn't hurt spot in NHL playoff race

Subpar start leads to Flyers loss vs. Lightning but doesn't hurt spot in NHL playoff race

BOX SCORE

The Flyers didn't bring their A-game to a game they needed it.

There would be no giant killing Saturday as the Flyers lost to the Lightning, 5-3, at Amalie Arena.

Goals from Ivan Provorov, James van Riemsdyk and Claude Giroux weren't enough for the Flyers (32-20-7), who are 6-3-2 against the Bruins, Lightning, Capitals, Penguins and Blues, the league's top five clubs.

Tampa Bay is the only one the Flyers haven't beaten. They'll get a final crack at the Lightning on March 12 in the same building.

The Lightning (39-15-5) have won 10 straight games.

• This really wasn't a bad loss for the Flyers.

They were at the end of a road trip and playing the NHL's hottest team. Tampa Bay is 22-2-1 over its last 25 games and hasn't lost at home since Dec. 19.

The Flyers entered Saturday with a 66.9 percent chance to make the playoffs, according to Hockey-Reference.com, and still hold an Eastern Conference wild-card spot (see standings).

Alain Vigneault's team just needs to recharge and be ready for a big home-and-home set against the Blue Jackets next week.

• Things got chippy in the second period. Travis Konecny was right in the middle of it all.

Steven Stamkos appeared to trip Giroux before a faceoff. Giroux didn't even look to be that mad about it.

During the final 6:09 of the middle frame, 22 penalty minutes were accrued.

• Brayden Point (10-game point streak) is good at hockey.

• Carter Hart, who was coming off his first road victory since Nov. 10, allowed four goals on 23 shots.

The 21-year-old wasn't the problem.

The first goal was a fluky one by Alex Killorn. On the second, Provorov was sloppy with the puck in the defensive zone and Tampa Bay capitalized to take a 2-0 lead into first intermission.

In the middle stanza, the Lightning beat Hart on a 3-on-2 to grab a commanding 3-0 advantage. Tampa Bay improved to 33-4-3 when it scores three or more goals.

Not only are the Lightning really good, but the Flyers also didn't play their typical forechecking, possession-based game until it was too late.

• Outside of the van Riemsdyk's third-period goal, Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy was strong with 30 saves, 15 of which came in the final stanza. 

Vasilevskiy improved to 18-0-1 with a 1.83 goals-against average and .940 save percentage over his last 19 starts.

• Provorov was far from his best against Tampa Bay but he did score the Flyers' first goal to trim the Lightning's lead to 3-1 in the second period. He also had an assist.

The 23-year-old has grown into a power play quarterback this season. He leads all NHL defensemen with seven man advantage goals after scoring only two over his first three NHL seasons.

• Travis Sanheim played 19:43 minutes Saturday after missing almost the entire third period of Thursday's 6-2 win over the Panthers because of a lower-body issue.

• The Flyers are off Sunday, practice at 11:30 a.m. Monday in Voorhees, New Jersey and host the Blue Jackets Tuesday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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Flyers, Lightning have 4 p.m. start on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Flyers, Lightning have 4 p.m. start on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Saturday's game should be a good one.

The Flyers and Lightning are two of the hottest teams in the NHL. Since Jan. 8, the Flyers have the league's most goals (52) and only one team has more points (21) — the Lightning (27).

Tampa Bay is also on a nine-game winning streak and 21-2-1 over its last 24 games.

The big showdown comes a little earlier than usual. Puck drop will be shortly after 4 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Philadelphia, with Flyers Pregame Live set for 3:30 p.m. ET.

The matchup finishes off a three-game road trip for the Flyers, who then play four of their next five games at the Wells Fargo Center.

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