The future is now, well, it’s almost here for the Detroit Red Wings.
One of their most prized possessions, prospect @Lucas Raymond, is off to an incredible start this pre-season, which begs the question, will he open the regular season in the National Hockey League?
Unfortunately, there isn’t an answer to that intriguing situation just yet, however, it might be trending in a positive direction for the former first-round selection. While sending the 19-year-old down to the American Hockey League during his first season in North America would be understandable, he’s doing everything in his power to make sure that doesn’t transpire.
Attempting to force the coaching staff’s hand, Raymond has been virtually unstoppable in three exhibition contests, which has seen him post two goals and six points over his 17:06 minutes of ice time per game. In addition, he’s also created 10 shots on goal, 10 scoring chances, one high-danger chance, one rebound and a 1.01 individual expected goals rate, according to NaturalStatTrick.com.
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More specifically, the right-hander showcased his remarkable scoring ability during Detroit’s most recent pre-season game, where he fired a puck past 2020-21 Vezina Trophy winner @Marc-André Fleury on the power play – proving yet again he’s ready for the next step.
Since just three exhibition games remain, with the final one scheduled for Oct. 9 against the Buffalo Sabers, the Red Wings’ brass likely won’t be required to decide on Raymond’s status until next week. That being said, it’s extremely difficult to ignore the fact that he looks NHL ready at this current moment, adding to coach Jeff Blashill’s already full plate.
“Obviously we don’t have to make that decision yet,” Blashill explained following a 6-4 defeat Monday night. “He’s played good in the games he’s played so far and that’s all he can do is take the challenges he has ahead of him and play good hockey, and I thought he did a good job. He’s got a mature game for a young guy. He’s obviously got talent.”
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It’s no hidden secret the Red Wings featured one of the worst power-play units last season, which registered the second-worst conversion rate (11.4%) in the league, but all of that could change for the better in 2021-22 if Raymond were to break camp in the NHL.
With the 5’10” potentially positioned on the top unit, paired across the ice from captain @Dylan Larkin, this team would feature two lethal scoring threats on opposite wings. Then with @Nick Leddy or @Filip Hronek at the blueline, along with @Robby Fabbri and eventually @Tyler Bertuzzi in the offensive zone, there’s no doubting how much offence they could generate with the man advantage.
“We have that speed on top, with both me and Dylan [Larkin] coming with speed on both sides, and then we could find passes from there,” Raymond discussed. “But I think that the style that we’re playing right now, it opens up a lot when you get that puck down the wing. You can have [the puck] back to the top, seam, down the middle, a shot, you have a lot of options.”
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Enjoying a strong performance during his stint with Frölunda HC of the Swedish Hockey League last season, Raymond appeared in 34 games, recording six goals and 18 points.
Receiving an opportunity to represent his home country at the 2020-21 World Juniors Tournament, the exciting youngster displayed his skills on the global stage, creating a pair of goals and five points through five contests.
On this current path, Raymond is making a massive push to convince the Red Wings’ coaching staff he deserves to be in the starting lineup on opening night, which is scheduled for Oct. 14 against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions in the Tampa Bay Lightning. Why start the regular season off on an easy note, right?
But for now, he’s focused on controlling what’s in front of him and playing to the best of his ability, as he should be, and is planning to let everything else take care of itself.
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“I just try to play my best, focus on my game and control the things that I can control,” Raymond mentioned. “It’s up to the [coaching] staff to decide, but I’m just trying to make as much impact as I can and play as good as I can.”