Lucas Raymond securing his spot in Red Wings’ lineup, rookie history

Detroit News

Detroit — The time might be right for Lucas Raymond to find his own place and get an automobile to get around town.

It appears Raymond’s workplace will be Little Caesars Arena for years to come.

Sunday’s three-goal, four-point game in the Red Wings’ 6-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks was the latest exclamation point to what’s been a dazzling debut for the 19-year-old.

When the Wings announced their opening-night roster, Raymond’s spot appeared tenuous. Sending him to Grand Rapids for a little more professional seasoning seemed possible.

Weeks later, Raymond leads all NHL rookies with four goals, three assists and seven points. He has become an early favorite for the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year.

“I’ve only played six games in the NHL, so I’m playing on a lot of adrenaline,” Raymond said. “Everything’s new to me, so I’m trying to go out there every night and have fun and help the team win.”

Sunday was more than fun at the United Center.

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The Wings were craving a victory, after a humbling loss in Montreal the night before. Raymond’s offensive ability was boldly on display.

“Fun for sure,” Raymond said. “First to get the bounce back win after a tough night (in Montreal), and to score my first career hat trick. It was for sure a special night.”

Raymond’s accomplishments placed him in some exclusive Wings’ company.

He became the first Detroit player age 19 or younger or have a three-goal game since Steve Yzerman in 1985. It was Yzerman, now the Wings’ general manager, who drafted Raymond in 2020.

Raymond also joined Yzerman and Gordie Howe as the only teenagers to earn four points in a game as Red Wings.

“It’s tough to take in,” Raymond said. “Those are two of the greatest players who ever played in franchise history. I’m trying not to think about it that much.”

The ways Raymond scored offer a glimpse into his future.

He used his instincts to find an open path down the slot for his first goal, taking a feed from Tyler Bertuzzi. On the second goal, Raymond crashed the net to put back a loose puck, enduring some physical abuse in the process.

On the third goal, Raymond one-timed a pass from Dylan Larkin on the power play to complete the hat trick.

The second goal was the most impressive. In his brief pro career, Raymond has shown no fear of going into the hard areas in an effort to score.

“Lucas doesn’t shy away from really anything,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “He’s taken some hard hits and he’s not shy at all. He’s got an edge to him for sure and he’s not shy about going to the net.”

Said Raymond: “It’s real important if you want to score goals, you have to get into those areas. You can’t just shoot and score fancy goals. You have to go in there and that’s usually where most of the goals are scored. I’m trying to get in there more and more.”

Raymond is thriving on a line with Bertuzzi and Larkin.

Jakub Vrana was expected in that spot. But when Vrana injured his shoulder 10 minutes into training camp and needed surgery, it created an opening for Raymond.

Playing on a high-powered line has given Raymond an opportunity to thrive.

“Some of that is situational, some of that is opportunity,” Blashill said of Raymond’s hot start. “He’s getting a hell of an opportunity, and he’s earned some of it. But No. 1, he’s in the NHL at a young age, which not a lot of guys get the chance to do. And No. 2, he’s playing with real good players on a real good line and getting important minutes.

“He’s got to make sure he does a real good job with that time and the minutes that he gets.”

Blashill feels the Larkin line has an opportunity to become a force in its own right.

“The line’s a good line, they’ve got different pieces,” Blashill said. “Larks has that energy, he can win puck battles. Tyler does a lot of everything, wins puck battles, is hard at the net, has skill to make plays. And Lucas is a real smart player, good defensively and is in position to make offensive plays.”

Raymond gives Bertuzzi and Larkin credit for their help on and off the ice.

“They’re two extremely smart and great players, so it’s really fun playing with them,” Raymond said. “It feels like we are getting to know each other out there and are playing with a lot of pace. They’re easy to play with, and they help me a lot, both on the ice and off the ice.

“It’s fun.”

Twitter: @tkulfan

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