Dave Brown only scouted Austrian winger Michael Raffl once this spring -- at the recent World Championships.
He and Chris Pryor, Flyers director of hockey operations, were impressed enough with the 24-year-old left wing that they recommended signing him.
Brown said on Tuesday that he feels the Flyers have the inside track on landing Raffl, but admits they are competing against other NHL clubs.
Swedish newspaper Dalarnas Tidningar, which broke the story, said the Flyers' top competition is Nashville.
Raffl has played the past two seasons for Leksands IF, which is Swedish Division One, just under the Swedish Elite League.
The last Austrian the Flyers had on their roster was Andreas Nodl. He was the organization’s only Austrian-born player ever drafted by the club (2006).
Brown, who is a pro scout -- not collegiate -- said Raffl projects as a third-line NHL player and would need at least a year playing in the AHL with the Phantoms to get acclimated to the North American game and smaller rinks. Raffl has never played in North America.
“We were watching a bunch of guys over there,” Brown said. Among those other players was goalie Bernhard Starkbaum, who played with Raffl at the World Championships and is based in the Swedish Elite League with MODO.
“Raffl is probably a third line player and would need an adjustment period which is the way it is for a lot of guys over there.”
Brown said Raffl’s game “has some bite” to it.
“You have to almost project how are they going to play in North America and will they compete physically or not,” said Brown, who was a legendary “compete” guy as a Flyer and always willing to drop the gloves.
“He showed it. Somebody gives him a push and gives them a crosscheck back … For me, really, are they competitive? You want to see if a guy gives him a shot he’ll do it back.”
Raffl, who scored 24 goals with 46 points in 49 games this season in Sweden, is 6-feet, 192 pounds.
“He’s a pretty good body who has to work on his footwork,” Brown said. “But his hands and his head are right there,” adding that Raffl showed he was very competitive on the puck at the World Championships.
Asked whether he thought the Flyers were close to signing Raffl, Brown said, “Yeah.”
Raffl’s entire hockey career has been spent in Europe. He played six seasons with VSV EC in the Austrian Hockey League before joining Leksands.
“If you can get one guy a year from the World Championships basically for nothing, it’s a home run,” Brown said.
That said, Leksands general manager Tommy Salo told Dalarnas Tidningar that Raffl does not have an “out” clause and therefore, the club would require financial compensation from any outside club given he has a year left on his contract.
“I don’t remember us signing anyone from over there where we had to pay,” Brown said.
Another Swedish newspaper, Aftonbladet, reported the Flyers' interest in Starkbaum, who had a very good season for MODO (2.06 goals against average; .933 save percentage) but was terrible in both the playoffs and World Championships with GAAs approaching or over 4.00.