Detroit — There is a path for forward Lucas Raymond to make the Red Wings roster.
But for it to happen, Raymond is going to have to make a jaw-dropping impact in the two-week series of games.
It can be done. Dylan Larkin did it in 2015 to make the Wings’ roster, instead of apprenticing in Grand Rapids.
Raymond, the Wings’ 2020 first-round draft pick (fourth overall), is going to have to be as dynamic.
“You should walk out of (the exhibition) games and feel like he was one of the better players on the ice,” said coach Jeff Blashill, of what Raymond has to do to be with the Wings opening night. “It shouldn’t be a hard decision. Because here’s the thing: If guys are equal, then you keep your depth by starting a guy like Lucas Raymond in the minors and letting him earn his way back on the team, whether through injuries, and we’re going to have injuries at some point.
“So, I said this earlier in the week: The guys that are trying to grab jobs, you can’t just be as good as another guy. You’ve got to be way better. When we watch the game, the impact on the game has to be great.”
With the injury to goal-scoring forward Jakub Vrana (shoulder), whose timetable for a return has yet to be announced, and both Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi returning from significant injuries late last season, offense — or specifically, where offense will come from — remains a major question mark.
Raymond has shown in spurts during training camp and the prospects tournament an ability to score goals. But, Raymond will need to carry that over to exhibition games.
“It should be easy for all of us to look and say, ‘Wow, he was definitely one of the best players on the ice, night in and night out,’” Blashill said. “That’s how you earn your way on the team. Dylan Larkin did it as a young player — and Dylan’s different because he’s a little flashier because of how well he skates, Lucas won’t be quite as flashy — but everybody sitting in the stands should be able to walk out and see he was one of the top couple forwards.
“Then you’re making a case to make the team.”
The futures of both Raymond and veteran forward Bobby Ryan, who is in camp on a professional tryout, will be interesting to watch as the exhibition games take place. Both players could help provide needed offense.
“They’re both going to get chances with good players, then they have to grab jobs,” Blashill said. “Bobby has been there before. Lucas is new to it. He’s a kid who wants a job. He understands if he’s not ready to play a prime-time role for us that he’ll start in Grand Rapids, and if that’s the case, he’ll be determined to work his way back up.”
Forwards Pius Suter and Robby Fabbri were linemates in 2013-14 while playing for Guelph (OHL). Bertuzzi was also on the team.
Blashill has had Suter and Fabbri together through training camp (Vrana was expected to complete the line), hoping the two can find their junior hockey chemistry.
“It’s been good to get on the ice with him in camp,” Fabbri said. “It’s going to be fun playing with him. Brings back memories.”
Suter, who the Wings signed as an unrestricted free agent in July, noted how the chemistry is returning in time through practices and continually being on the ice.
“We played a few games way back in Guelph, but it’s been a while,” Suter said. “As time goes on, every practice you kind of feel how he thinks, how I think, how we’re going to play it out. The more you play together the more you’re going to read off each other better, so with every game it’s going to improve.
“He’s a quick, smart player, so I don’t think it will take us too long.”
Room to improve
Moritz Seider has shown flashes of being the dominant young defenseman in training camp, but there have been glitches, too.
Just as any young defenseman, Blashill feels Seider has things to learn playing without the puck.
“It’s without the puck that he’s got to make sure offensively he knows what he’s going to do with it before he gets it,” Blashill said. “He’s got great poise and size, so he draws people to him and makes plays. But sometimes the right play is to just move it right away.
“Let’s play fast, let’s get it moving and then you jump into the play.
“Defensively, when he’s engaged in people, he’s a really good defender. But you have to work and think ahead so that you’re in the proper position to have really good gaps, so you can get engaged in that guy quicker.
“Without the puck, those issues are just learning things for young defensemen.”
Sabres at Red Wings
► Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
► TV/radio: No TV/950 AM.
► Outlook: The Wings play their second exhibition game in two nights, this one against the young Sabres. … Expect a deeper Wings lineup than the one that played in Chicago, with more veterans. … A major issue facing Buffalo is the future of C Jack Eichel, who has asked to be traded.