Detroit Red Wings’ 19-year-old rookie Lucas Raymond off to terrific start

Detroit Free Press

Lucas Raymond is getting by nicely as he forays into the NHL: He has a rookie roommate for a driver, and a nice resume after just three games with the Detroit Red Wings.

The Wings are 2-0-1 headed into the Thursday’s game against the Calgary Flames, their most recent victory stoked by two points from their 2020 first-round pick. Raymond, 19, has a puck to remember and two points to bank after scoring and assisting in Tuesday’s 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

It has been quite a month for Raymond, who arrived from Sweden for September’s Prospects Tournament, segued into training camp, and emerged with a spot on the Wings’ top line.

“It’s been really exciting,” Raymond said Tuesday. “Tough of course. Traverse was tough, a lot of practices, it was training camp. And then coming here and playing a lot of games, making the team, and getting the season started – it’s been really fun. But kind of when you’re in it, you don’t really have time to stop and reflect on it. You just keep going and try to make the best out of every day. It’s been really fun.”

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It has been fun because Raymond has been responsible. When the Wings found out Jakub Vrana would miss the season’s first four months because of a shoulder injury, Raymond aced an audition for a spot next to Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi during training camp.

“Certainly Vrana’s injury opened up opportunity,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We didn’t have Lucas up there right away. We put him up there as it went along. We wanted to make sure he showed he was deserving of some opportunity there.

“I like the dynamic between the three of them — Bert is real gritty, can go get pucks; Larks has that speed that drives the line, and Lucas is a cerebral player. It’s a good combination between the three of them.”

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Larkin missed the second game serving a suspension, but the three have combined for seven goals in two games.

“They’re two incredible players on and off the ice,” Raymond said. “They help me a lot. It feels like we’re starting to connect and get to know each other out there. They’re two extremely, extremely fun players to play with and great players, so it’s easy to play with them and read off them.”

Raymond was drafted by general manager Steve Yzerman in 2020, when the Wings came off a dreadful season (17-49-5) but were pushed to No. 4 in the draft lottery. So far, Raymond — the franchise’s highest draft pick since 1990 — has looked like a nice consolation prize, picking up three points in three games. He wasn’t a lock to make the roster like 2019 first-round pick Moritz Seider, but both have shown they have the skills and poise to play in the NHL.

“I think him and Seider, they have a real good combination of inner confidence but are real calm people and real respectful,” Blashill said. “They’re not entitled people but they have that inner confidence. (Raymond) definitely has a maturity beyond his years, and that’s going to help him as he goes through any upcoming trials and tribulations that he will face.”

THE ROOKIES: Moritz Seider, Lucas Raymond want to show Wings ‘are taking big steps’

YZERMAN SAYS: Lucas Raymond has no glaring weaknesses

Raymond is living with Seider, who also serves as Raymond’s chauffeur, because he doesn’t yet have a car. The two mesh well, and there’s no rush for Raymond. He’s in a nice routine at Little Caesars Arena, where if he isn’t on the ice he’s in the workout room strengthening his 5-foot-11, 182-pound frame. It’s how he builds his confidence, too.

“You get your confidence from being prepared and working hard during practices, in the gym,” Raymond said. “It’s something you have to work on daily and keep it on a steady line.”

Raymond has his first goal now, a “moment I’ve been looking forward to.” He didn’t finish the game because when Columbus’ Jack Roslovic checked him, he went to the dressing room to undergo concussion protocol but “I feel good, fortunately. I felt like I got it from the back, hit the boards. Happy I’m OK.”

The Wings have scored at least three goals in each game, and are showing foes that cheap shots won’t be tolerated. When Raymond went down, Bertuzzi went after Roslovic. They have five of a possible six points, and a bit of swagger.

“It’s been amazing,” Raymond said “The energy in the arena and in the group, it’s been awesome. We stick up for each other and we play with energy and we play hard every night. It’s fun to play. The team feels really good.”

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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