Go ahead, smirk, Steve Yzerman: Detroit Red Wings’ Lucas Raymond is NHL Rookie of Month

Detroit Free Press

It took three months for the NHL to recognize what a fantastic rookie Steve Yzerman was, only two to do the same for Detroit Red Wings forward Lucas Raymond.

Raymond, drafted at No. 4 in 2020 by Steve Yzerman (drafted fourth overall in 1983), was named NHL Rookie of the Month for November after pouring five goals and seven assists into 14 games.

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Teammate Moritz Seider was Rookie of the Month for October, making the Wings the first team with back-to-back honors since the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2016-17 season, when December’s award went to Auston Matthews and January’s to Mitchell Marner.

It’s nice recognition for Raymond and Seider, who are huge reasons why the Wings are fun to watch again and flirting with the playoff picture. Seider’s place in the lineup is not a surprise because at 20 years old, he’s already in his fourth year playing in a men’s league, and he has a size advantage at 6-foot-4. But defense is a tough position for a young player, and the fact he’s already the team’s best blueliner is a credit to Seider’s smarts and poise.

Yzerman picked Seider at No. 6 in 2019, higher than Seider had been projected to go, and it looks like a genius pick.

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So does Raymond. It may never be easy to accept  that the Wings got pushed back to the fourth selection in 2020 after finishing in last place, 23 points behind the next-worst team, while the New York Rangers went from the playoff bubble to picking first overall thanks to a pandemic-altered draft lottery. But Yzerman would be excused if he’s smirking from his corner suite at Little Caesars Arena: Raymond leads his draft class with 23 points in 21 games, while No. 1 pick Alexis Lafreniere has six points in 20 games.

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When Raymond, 19, scored Nov. 24 against St. Louis, he became the second teenager in franchise history to collect his first 20 career points in 21 games or fewer. Yzerman did it in 17 games in 1983-84. He was named rookie of the month for December 1983 after cramming 10 goals and seven assists into 15 games. Yzerman received a video cassette recorder for winning the award.

The Wings weren’t sure Raymond was ready for the NHL, but he proved otherwise at training camp. When Jakub Vrana was lost to a shoulder injury, Raymond stepped into Vrana’s designated spot and looked like he belonged next to Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi. Raymond has succeeded because he’s skilled and smart — there’s never any panic in him, never any throwing away of the puck when opponents pressure him.

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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