The Winnipeg Jets have given 6-foot-4 Austrian forward Thomas Raffl — brother of the Flyers’ Michael Raffl — a professional tryout contract (PTO) to try and make the Jets out of camp, according to the German-language Kurier.
Raffl’s upside figures to be a depth winger. While he’s produced well in the Austrian league, most recently putting up 26 goals and 27 assists in 52 games for Salzburg EC, that kind of production doesn’t tend to translate from Austria to the NHL. That was the first time in his Austrian pro career that he’s surpassed a point per game pace.
Raffl has also regularly played for the Austrian national team, playing in the 2014 Sochi Olympics and many IIHF World Championships, including captaining the Austrian team at the World Championship this year.
Most scouts have noted his lack of foot speed being a problem for him to transition into North American hockey. He did have a single season where he attempted North American hockey as a junior, bouncing between the Swift Current Broncos and Kelowna Rockets in the WHL before playing with the Des Moines Buccaneers in the USHL. Nonetheless, transitioning to the style of play and physicality, while having other issues to contend with at age 29 could hinder his ability to succeed out of the gates in the NHL.
If Raffl makes the Jets out of camp it’s likely because management doesn’t feel that there are any young prospects ready to make the jump. In that instance, he’d be providing competition for depth forwards like Matt Halischuk, Chris Thorburn and Matt Fraser, as well as some veteran depth in the AHL if he signs a deal that has him in the AHL instead of heading back to Austria if he’s not in the NHL.
This news comes shortly after it was revealed that the team will be bringing in veteran goaltender David Leggio on a PTO as well.
Lots of familiar names are taking PTOs this season. Keep up with all the tryout contracts with The Hockey Writers’ 2015 PTO Tracker.