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Claimed:Phil Rafter HOF


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C - Phil Rafter
Birthplace: Torquay, England
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 200 lbs
Jersey Number: 11
Drafted: S27 DAV (1/6)
Username: ssdd911/Phil

British players have often had a larger than expected presence in the VHL and particularly during the peak of activity for both David and Phil Knight (so starting with the careers of Hall of Famers David Walcott and Phil Gerrard). Yet when the two brothers entered the same draft in Season 27, it was perhaps then that they created the two greatest British players of all-time (a list which, to note, includes Leeroy Jenkins among others), and also simply two legendary forwards. David Smalling became renowned for his two-way play but his almost inseparable linemate Phil Rafter complemented him with a superb scoring output over his career. Upon announcing eligibility for the draft alongside other notables such as defencemen Nic Riopel and Elijah Incognito and another future Hall of Famer Alexander Chershenko, they were all drafted to a team with 16 straight picks in the VHLM draft: the Vasteras IK J20. Comically, they failed to win the Founder's Cup, but individually many, including Rafter, showed a glimpse of things to come.

Career Awards:
S28 Terence Fong Trophy (with Davos)
S28 Francis Trophy
S29 Terence Fong Trophy (with Davos)
S29 Francis Trophy
S30 Victory Cup (with Davos)
S30 Terence Fong Trophy (with Davos)
S30 Francis Trophy
S31 Continental Cup (with Davos)
S31 Terence Fong Trophy (with Davos)
S32 Brett Slobodzian Trophy
S32 Mike Szatkowski Trophy
S32 Kevin Brooks Trophy
S33 Mikka Virkkunen Trophy
Season 27 Statistics:
Regular Season:
S27 (DAV) - 72GP / 43G / 49A / 92P / +1 / 9PIM / 435SH / 4GWG / 36.75FO%
The Season 27 VHL Entry Draft was filled with extremely talented players, causing an obvious star in Rafter to fall all the way to sixth overall. This was, in a way, a blessing, as the HC Davos Dynamo had also selected goaltender Satan and forwards Smalling and Ying Qin in the first round as they began building a new dynasty. Rafter, with Smalling and Satan, made the immediate jump to the big league and predictably, didn't look out of his depth at all in the VHL. Despite being the focal point of a non-playoff team, Rafter led all rookies in scoring and came quite close to hitting 50 goals and 100 points in just his first season in the league. In most seasons this would have been enough to win the Christian Stolzschweiger Trophy as top rookie but Rafter had to settle for second place behind Smalling who set a new single-season record for most hits.

Season 28 Statistics:
Regular Season:
S28 (DAV) - 72GP / 48G / 61A / 109P / +75 / 0PIM / 412SH / 7GWG / 55.64FO%
S28 (DAV) - 6GP / 2G / 2A / 4P / -1 / 0PIM / 26SH / 0GWG / 51.28FO%
Rafter wasn't at all envious of his good friend Smalling's success and instead worked to improve his offensive game further. Having flourished with fewer pieced on the team, some theorised that perhaps the Dynamo's off-season acquisitions of star players such as Ansgar Snijider and Kasey Braun would force Rafter into a smaller role. They couldn't be more wrong as Rafter, as a sophomore player, led his team in scoring with 109 points and finished fourth in the whole league in scoring. He edged ever closer to the 50-goal mark and had already left all forwards of a similar age behind him in the scoring charts. In the playoffs, however, Rafter and Davos' youth and inexperience came to the forefront against the veteran New York Americans and they were stymied in the first round, though two wins was seen as a tremendous accomplishment at this stage of their core's career.

Season 29 Statistics:
Regular Season:
S29 (DAV) - 72GP / 41G / 44A / 85P / +20 / 4PIM / 413SH / 10GWG / 57.05FO%
S29 (DAV) - 13GP / 5G / 6A / 11P / -6 / 0PIM / 68SH / 1GWG / 53.64FO%
In a rare turn of events, Phil Rafter could not build on the progress made in recent times and his points total fell below his rookie result of 92 and would be the worst of his career. He still scored at an impressive pace with over 40 goals for yet another season and had wonderfully developed his skill at taking face-offs (especially compared to his debut in the VHL), but it seemed some opponents had figured out his play or at least that of his teammates. To note, Rafter was still second in team scoring and only four players that season managed to get at least 100 points, but one of these was rival center Chershenko who had been inferior to Rafter in previous seasons. On the bright side, Rafter's Dynamo made the playoffs unlike Chershenko's Wranglers and even made it to the final, defeating the favoured reigning cup champion Seattle. It was a superb achievement in a rather turbulent season within the Davos ranks where only a select few, including the league's most sportsmanlike player Rafter, stepped up to vocally lead the team. As such, even a tough loss to the Toronto Legion in six games was something to take positives from.

Season 30 Statistics:
Regular Season:
S30 (DAV) - 72GP / 44G / 58A / 102P / +55 / 0PIM / 416SH / 6GWG / 61.53FO%
S30 (DAV) - 4GP / 1G / 2A / 3P / +2 / 0PIM / 18SH / 0GWG / 47.83FO%
Positives were taken and the Dynamo rebounded well in Season 30, Rafter now being one of just five 100-point scorers in the league. Davos had a contrasting regular season to the one in Season 29 and it showed as they narrowly won the Victory Cup as the regular season's best team. There seemed to be a correlation between Rafter's better seasons and the performances of the Dynamo and with that in mind, the whole team went into the playoffs feeling confident. Unfortunately, that confidence might have led Davos to disaster as they were shockingly swept in the first round by perhaps their biggest rivals (based on draft years of their core) in the Calgary Wranglers. Rafter was one of the few who escaped the fans' blame but with free agent departures, questions surrounding management, and a shifting VHL landscape as a result of expansion, there was uncertainty over the Dynamo's future.

Season 31 Statistics:
Regular Season:
S31 (DAV) - 72GP / 50G / 76A / 126P / +69 / 40PIM / 555SH / 10GWG / 66.46FO%
S31 (DAV) - 11GP / 6G / 6A / 12P / +5 / 24PIM / 67SH / 1GWG / 57.90FO%
Concerns remained as Davos seemed to enter Season 31 under-prepared and demoralised from the previous season's experience. This was something you wouldn't be able to tell by Phil Rafter's performance, however, who finally scored 50 goals in a single season, one which also saw him hit a career high of 126 points and third place in the league's scoring charts. Judging by the amount of penalty minutes from the well-liked center, it was obvious Rafter was hungry for a championship to go with his individual play. It looked like it was all for naught for a time, as the Dynamo's management was nowhere to be seen, but the team was saved by David Knight, whose own David Smalling supported Rafter as the team's leader. Minor tweaks at the trade deadline were all the star-studded Dynamo needed as they rolled into the cup final for the second time in three seasons. A bad start ensued as Davos went down 3-1 to the no less desperate New York Americans, but the offensive effort from Rafter and his teammates dragged the Dynamo out of this hole and to a Continental Cup.

Season 32 Statistics:
Regular Season:
S32 (DAV) - 56GP / 58G / 61A / 119P / +47 / 25PIM / 541SH / 12GWG / 64.82FO%
S32 (HSK) - 17GP / 10G / 17A / 27P / +9 / 4PIM / 108SH / 1GWG / 61.27FO%
S32 (TOT) - 73GP / 68G / 78A / 146P / +56 / 29PIM / 649SH / 13GWG / 64.28FO%
S32 (HSK) - 11GP / 3G / 10A / 13P / +2 / 4PIM / 58SH / 0GWG / 63.77FO%
Season 31 turned out to be the last hoorah of this Davos generation as by the start of the following season it was back to the roots of the team, with Rafter, Smalling, and Satan the only key players still in place after multiple free agent departures and retirements. There might have been little to play for for the team in a competitive European Conference, but Rafter still had work to do on the individual front as he burst out of the gate as the league's top scorer and never slowed down. After a 56-game stretch with Davos where he put up totals which would have been career-best for most forwards in the league, Rafter's trade value surged and as a rental he fetched a great return from the budding Helsinki Titans. There, Rafter kept up his strong play and finished the season with a phenomenal 68 goals and 146 points, the most in the league, which resulted also in a Brett Slobodzian Trophy as the VHL's most outstanding player. In the playoffs, Rafter remained a veteran leader for Helsinki and led them to a key victory over Vasteras, although they were swept in the conference finals by the Riga Reign.

Season 33 Statistics:
Regular Season:
S33 (DAV) - 72GP / 64G / 63A / 127P / +34 / 10PIM / 559SH / 9GWG / 64.14FO%
S33 (DAV) - 7GP / 5G / 6A / 11P / -2 / 0PIM / 51SH / 1GWG / 54.39FO%
Following the stint in Helsinki, Rafter returned to the Dynamo to rekindle his chemistry with David Smalling. Despite his proven results outside of Davos, Rafter always seemed most at home with the team which ultimately retired his number and here he marked his return with a third straight 50+ goal and 125+ point season. In fact, it was also his second straight 60+ goal season, though points-wise he finished just below Smalling and two more future Hall of Famers in Jarvis Baldwin and Volodymyr Rybak. So stellar was his and Smalling's offensive play that Davos made a stunning return to the playoffs and even took a 3-1 lead over the heavily-favoured Riga Reign. The 'Cinderella story' wasn't given much time to pick up, however and despite exceeding all expectations, there was a certain bitterness about the first round exit when all was said and done. Despite this, it was a worthy end to Rafter's Dynamo career as one last change awaited in his final season.

Season 34 Statistics:
Regular Season:
S34 (NYA) - 72GP / 49G / 56A / 105P / +32 / 17PIM / 497SH / 7GWG / 67.04FO%
S34 (NYA) - 7GP / 3G / 7A / 10P / -3 / 9PIM / 35SH / 0GWG / 57.91FO%
The HC Davos Dynamo undertook another management change and to achieve it, Rafter and Smalling were traded to New York for old rival Alexander Chershenko. The Americans were two seasons removed from a Continental Cup, had made three straight cup finals going in S34 and a shocking ten straight playoffs, so the trade of one Hall of Famer for two was bound to bring even better results to the Big Apple. Shockingly, the reverse happened, as the Americans struggled all season to clinch the final playoff spot in North America. Once they had, everything was possible but Rafter and co were eliminated in seven games by the Calgary Wranglers, led by a rental and eventual playoff MVP Chershenko. Nonetheless, Rafter had little need to prove his worth in the VHL further and his regular season totals (an eighth-straight season of 40 or more goals and his sixth 100-point performance) made him the fourth player ever to score a career 400 goals and almost the fifth to accumulate 900 points.

Career Totals:

Regular Season:
577GP / 407G / 485A / 892P / +342 / 109PIM / 3936SH / 66GWG / 59.40FO%
59GP / 25G / 39A / 64P / -3 / 37PIM / 323SH / 3GWG / 56.60FO%
Phil Rafter was unfortunate to not be a first-ballot Hall of Famer as he was kept out by Smalling's hits and Chershenko's larger award case and superior playoff history. The following season, it was the generation's best defenceman Ryan Sullivan and best goaltender Alexander Labatte who stood in Rafter's way. Yet despite lacking a physical layer to his game, Rafter was also the best in what he did: scoring. Pure scorers are uncommon in today's VHL and those that exist don't do their job half as well as Phil Rafter had, who was the greatest offensive forward in living memory. His career totals put him beneath only the legendary Scotty Campbell, Mike Szatkowski, and Christian Stolzschweiger in goals, and the aforementioned trio along with Kevin Brooks in points. With Rafter in lists featuring four greats who have VHL awards named after them, the inference to make is simple enough: Phil Rafter was a great.
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