Winnipeg Jets forward Thomas Raffl is returning to Austria on a deal to play for EC Salzburg, the Austrian club announced Monday.
Raffl played for Salzburg prior to last season, when he signed a deal with the Jets to come play in North America. Unfortunately, things didn’t go quite as planned and Raffl spent the season toiling in the AHL for the Manitoba Moose.
After scoring 26 goals and 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg, Raffl only posted five goals and 10 points in 31 games for the Moose. His struggles and lack of opportunity can largely be laid at the feet of an injury-plagued season. He suffered a separated collarbone and a broken rib in his very first AHL game. The 6-foot-4, 234-pound forward wasn’t a European player getting welcomed to a physical league, it was just a big open ice hit.
After he returned and started getting his game together, he was hit in the face during practice and broke his jaw.
Once he returned for a second time, he started to heat up until he was taken out of the lineup again with an undisclosed lower-body injury that kept him from playing again.
Prior to signing a deal with the Jets Raffl had played in a Salzburg sweater for five seasons, including a short stint as the team’s alternate captain. He’s a well-loved player there, even serving as the captain of the Austrian national team at the 2015 World Championship. He wasn’t able to play at the 2016 tournament, presumably because of that undisclosed lower-body issue.
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.