| The Detroit News
Detroit – The Red Wings had needs everywhere — forward, center, goaltender — when Tuesday’s Entry Draft began.
They chose to fill forward, picking Lucas Raymond, the Swedish left winger, with the fourth overall pick in the first round.
Raymond, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound winger, is playing for Frolunda in the Swedish Elite League, where he has one goal and one assist in four games.
Raymond told The Detroit News earlier this summer it would be a dream come true to play for the Wings.
“Any NHL team but especially the Red Wing with their history of Swedes,” said Raymond, who toured Little Caesars Arena when the Swedish national junior team held a tryout summer camp in Plymouth last summer. “(Henrik) Zetterberg, (Nicklas) Lidstrom, (Niklas) Kronwall, (Tomas) Holmstrom. I can only imagine playing in front of so many fans there.”
Last season, as a teenager playing against men in Frolunda, Raymond had 10 points in 33 games, while also learning how to play a 200-foot game all over the ice, and especially paying attention to the defensive end.
“Growing up, I was always the go-to guy with every team I played on and got to play huge minutes,” Raymond said “Coming into this year and not getting the same role in a men’s league was extremely valuable for me. You have to really fight for a spot and earn every minute of ice time. That was a big lesson.”
Raymond paid particular credit to Frolunda teammate Joel Lundqvist, the twin brother of New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, with his development the last two seasons.
“Joel is the most impressive player I’ve ever learned from,” Raymond said. “He’s a talented player, a great leader and we’ve become good friends. He taught me about developing a defensive game and how a four-line team can be successful. Our fourth line could’ve been a first line on most of the other teams in the SHL.”
Raymond has consistently been one of the top five to 10 picks in most draft projections from the start of the season.
Craig Button, the TSN draft analyst, has been a big fan of Raymond’s overall skills.
“There is no play that is impossible when he has the puck,” said Button, during a recent draft preview. “Because he is so smart, when it appears he may be trapped is actually when he may be most dangerous, because he is so attuned to the possibilities. I see him as a number one playmaking… winger in the mold of Toronto Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner.”
There are a lot of strengths to Raymond’s game.
Scouts raved about Raymond’s speed and playmaking abilities, along with his maturity off the ice.
At the 2019 under-18 world championships Raymond scored three goals, including the game-winner in overtime, as Sweden defeated Russia in the gold medal game.
Raymond, who was the youngest player for Sweden at the 2020 world junior championships, had two goals and two assists for the bronze-medal winning Swedes.
At this point, only his lack of physical size makes him a possible candidate to remain in Sweden at least through this season.
Raymond, along with many other European players in this draft, had one slight advantage, as it were, over some North Americans.
With every major hockey league in North America currently on hold because of the pandemic, scouts were able to get one more look at European players, who are mostly active as leagues are being played in Europe.