Don’t sleep on Lucas Raymond in 2022-23

Winging It In Motown

Lucas Raymond is a highly talented player, and I think it’s safe to assume that most of the NHL knows that. Through the beginning of the 2021-22 season, he was the leader of the Calder Trophy race before his Detroit Red Wings teammate Moritz Seider took the lead, and eventually, the trophy. As the winds changed in the race, it felt as if eyes were being taken off the young Swedish stud. Yes, there were points where he wasn’t scoring. However, he was still being serviceable offensively, and at 19 and 20 years old, that’s all that can be asked of him.

But how good of a year did Raymond have? He was on the younger side of the Calder Trophy conversation and managed to produce better than or equal to the finalists. He scored 57 points in 82 games, which ranked 3rd among all rookies. He also ranked 4th in points per game at 0.70. Additionally, he scored 23 goals, which was tied for second with Cole Caufield, Trevor Zegras, and Michael Bunting. The caveat to those numbers is that they could have been better, especially the goal total. There was a stint in the middle of the season when Raymond’s goal-scoring went ice cold, and barring that stint; we likely see the young Swede as the third finalist instead of Bunting.

The one downside to Raymond’s season, especially analytically, was his defense. But it’s important to remember that the Jeff Blashill-coached Red Wings had one of the worst defensive seasons we’ve seen in recent memory. So, I’m taking it with a grain of salt and waiting until we see him under Derek LaLonde, who appears to be a promising bench boss for these rising superstars.

Regarding the analytics, Raymond ranked 4th on the Red Wings in expected goals for percentage (xGF%) at 5v5, behind Tyler Bertuzzi, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Dylan Larkin. He ranked 6th on the Red Wings in goals above replacement (GAR), a stat from Evolving-Hockey that attempts to make a holistic assessment of a player based on six categories of play, and 3rd in expected goals above replacement (xGAR).

Finally, here is his full-season regularized adjusted plus-minus (RAPM) chart:

Lucas Raymond RAPM Chart 2021-22
Evolving-Hockey

Raymond is going to be an elite player in the NHL, and along with Detroit’s Calder-winning defenseman Moritz Seider, he is evidence that teams don’t need the first overall pick to get franchise-altering players, especially when you have someone as calculated as Steve Yzerman sitting in the general manager’s chair. As the season wore on, it felt as if the hype around the 20-year-old winger continued to deteriorate. With Zegras scoring lacrosse-style goals, Seider rising up the ranks, and Bunting scoring with the help of Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, there shouldn’t be any surprise that when Raymond’s scoring went down, the chatter slowed.

It would be a mistake to forget the kind of season Raymond had and the upside he’s shown he can reach. He earned his merit, but he also became the “second best rookie” on the Red Wings, which, like it or not, can lead to underrating a player. And although the Red Wings faithful know what they have to look forward to in the coming seasons, this is a statement to all the NHL fans that may not be talking about him much in comparison to other young stars, don’t forget about him because it’s only up from here.

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