Red Wings Raymond Is Proving What He Can Bring to the Franchise

The Hockey Writers

He made the roster out of his first training camp as a member of the Detroit Red Wings. He proved to the coaching staff and management that he was worthy of the straight path to the NHL. He is Lucas Raymond — the team’s 2020 fourth-overall pick from Gothenburg, Sweden.

The expectations for a player coming onto the roster straightaway are always high. Some players live up to those expectations or even exceed them, and others don’t. However, they eventually find their stride. It’s a part of being a young player in the best hockey league in the world. In a market like Detroit, where the expectations are always high, no matter how young or old you are, it’s even more magnified. We can’t ignore the young defenseman Moritz Seider‘s contributions, most prominently quarterbacking the power play, but Raymond has arguably been the more impressive of the two youngsters.

There’s nothing like strengthening narratives. Heading into the season, the Red Wings boasted two potential Calder Trophy finalists, and they have lived up to that hype. Seider was already in the conversation, and with six points in seven games, he’s on his way. The event that sealed the deal for the other young gun in Raymond was his hat trick against the Chicago Blackhawks. It was just an example of what he can provide to the franchise in the long term.

Raymond’s Hat Trick Is Just the Beginning

Heading into the game against the Blackhawks, Raymond had three points in five games. He had only scored one goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets up to that point. Well, he took it up a notch with a hat-trick and a four-point night in a 6-3 victory.

Raymond’s first goal resulted from Tyler Bertuzzi taking advantage of a poor chip off the wall from Blackhawks defenseman Calvin De Haan. He cut through the middle with speed, made a fancy move, and shoved the puck five-hole through last season’s Vezina Trophy winner Marc-Andre Fleury. His second goal was a result of pure hard work and understanding where to go on the ice. After moving the puck to the outside, he charged the middle and went straight to the net. He broke the defense pair and eventually put home the rebound off of a Dylan Larkin shot.

Related: Moritz Seider is Already the Red Wings’ Top Defenseman

The last goal that sealed the deal for Raymond was perfect. On the power play, he set up in the left circle, ready for a one-timer. Seider was quarterbacking from the point, and Larkin was in the right circle. After Bertuzzi won a battle down low and retrieved the puck, Larkin got it along the wall thanks to a great pass from Sam Gagner in the slot. The puck moved quickly after that, and it resulted in a beautiful goal.

The shot slowed down after it got to Fleury, and I’m sure the play slowed down for Raymond even more. But the puck movement on the play perfectly encapsulated the way the Red Wings want to play. They were smart with the puck, and they won the battles down low, which is the foundation to winning games. He broke out and showed what he could bring to a team that was missing another scoring threat.

Raymond Creates Overtime Winner for Larkin

The Red Wings played the Washington Capitals on Oct. 27, and it was an eventful matchup. Adam Erne and Robbi Fabbri got their second goals on the year, and Pius Suter notched his first assist and point in a Detroit uniform. The best part about the game was the game-winning goal. The match went to overtime, and thanks to a sweet play from no one other than Raymond, Larkin could fire a shot past the goaltender Vitek Vanecek.

It’s not very often that you see a player at this age have such poise and confidence with the puck. It seems as if he’s always one step ahead of the opponent. He fights off pressure from Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov, drops the puck to Larkin, and drives towards the net immediately to open up space for a shot. He may not be the most flashy player, but the way he thinks the game is truly impressive. The simple but effective ways of playing hockey are precisely what the Red Wings needed to be instilled into the lineup’s collective mindset.

Raymond Is Just Getting Started

The 2021-22 NHL season is still very young. However, there is tons to be said about a young player like Raymond being tied for the team lead in points. His confidence with and without the puck is incredible. He has faith in his abilities, and the coaching staff does too. His time on the top line has served him well, and it goes to show that playing prospects at the top of the lineup won’t always be a detriment to their development as a player. It inherently offers them better opportunities and more experience against more challenging opponents.

There’s a lot to like about what we see with Raymond. He has a 65.1 expected goals for percentage (xGF%) per Evolving-Hockey. It’s second on the team, and his 88.26 goals for percentage (GF%) are also tied for second. His RAPM chart is one of the best I have ever seen for a rookie. As for goals above replacement (GAR), he’s tied for 18th in the NHL and second on the Red Wings. In expected goals above replacement (xGAR), he’s first with Detroit and 13th in the NHL.

Lucas Raymond 2021-22 Chart through eight games
Lucas Raymond RAPM chart (8 games) per Evolving-Hockey

As of right now, he appears to be the leader for the Calder Trophy, and Seider seems to be right behind him. You can’t argue against the numbers. He has been one of the best players in the league up to this point, and it has been exciting to watch him perform every night. The only hope now is that this continues for the rest of the season.

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