- Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
It is starting to appear that the Philadelphia Flyers will draft a forward in the 2013 NHL Draft at the end of the month. Not only because that is the organizations M.O., but also because the Flyers recently just signed another defenseman and a left winger last week to three-year contracts.
News broke late last Thursday that the Flyers had signed coveted Austrian left winger Michael Raffl. Reports were also coming in earlier that day that they had also signed another defenseman, Maxim Lamarche from the QMJHL‘s Baie-Comeau. The Flyers denied the reports on Thursday, but come Friday afternoon they admitted that they had signed both of the players.
Before anyone passes judgement on Paul Holmgren and the Flyers PR people, here’s what probably happened. The news broke Thursday night because Lamarche announced it himself with this tweet:
Very proud to signed my first nhl contract with the Philadelphia Flyers
— Maxim Lamarche (@Max_Lamarche) May 31, 2013
It was then that the Flyers said, “No we haven’t signed him,” but they left out the word “yet.” What probably happened was that Lamarche had physically just signed the contract, but had yet to fax it over to the front office, so according to the Flyers they hadn’t signed him because they had no official signature yet. As for Raffl, the news starting circling on Twitter very late Thursday night, so it made sense that we did not get confirmation that the Flyers had signed him until Friday afternoon.
Raffl was a member of Team Austria during the IIHF’s World Championships in Sweden and Finland, and his performance with his country team is why the NHL started to pay more attention. The Flyers were not the only organization seeking to sign him. According to reports, the Nashville Predators were also showing a serious interest in him, but the Flyers were the team to finally get him.
Raffl is called a “late bloomer” in terms of hockey coming in as a rookie at 24-years-old, but how is this any different from Matt Read two seasons ago? Raffl, who played for Leskands IF in Sweden this year, impressed scouts as he led his team with 24 goals and 46 points. The fact that the team also won the regular season title may also be why the Flyers were so interested in him.
As for defenseman Lamarche, the 20-year-old Canadian was scouted last year by Flyers scouts, but this year they finally decided to give the young blue-liner a chance. This year with Baie-Comeau he only had nine goals, but he did assist his teammates 34 times. Lamarche is sure to get a spot with the Adirondack Phantoms next season, and the Flyers will be looking to develop him further.
With the signing of another defenseman, does this mean that the Flyers won’t draft a top leading D-man in the entry-level draft? It is entirely possible, especially when considering the fact that this team will go after the best player they can get, rather than what they really need. Whatever they do at the end of the month, signing Lamarche was a good start to develop better defense.