Sometimes I forget just how young Detroit Red Wings second-year winger Lucas Raymond is. Raymond, 21, is having an ok second season with the organization but has taken a bit of a step back from his stellar rookie campaign a year ago.
The Detroit Red Wings selected Raymond fourth overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Level Draft, and he quickly became a vital piece of Detroit’s top-six forwards. Thanks to a fantastic training camp and pre-season, Raymond played his way into Detroit’s lineup as a 19-year-old. In fact, Raymond beat out veteran winger Bobby Ryan who was with the wings on a personal tryout (PTO) at the time, for a final roster spot. That didn’t only surprise some fans. It also somewhat shocked general manager Steve Yzerman. I think Detroit expected Ryan to earn a spot last season in Detroit’s top nine, but with one spot remaining, Yzerman opted to stay with Raymond, which was unquestionably the correct decision.
It’s a similar situation that has happened with Jonatan Berggren this season. Yzerman recently admitted that he expected Berggren to spend the year in Grand Rapids. Still, following his call-up to fill in for injuries, he immediately played his way into the lineup on a nightly basis and wouldn’t return to the Griffins.
Raymond completed the year as a Calder Trophy finalist finishing fourth in voting for the award, eventually awarded to his teammate Moritz Seider. As a rookie, Raymond recorded 23 goals and 57 points over 82 games skating primarily on Detroit’s top line with captain Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi. I don’t want to call it a complete sophomore slump, but Raymond has taken a slight step back in year two.
This season Raymond has continued his role as a top-six forward in head coach Derek Lalonde’s lineup, but he seems to be bouncing between the top two lines far more often than last season. Lalonde doesn’t mind using the blender to shake up his lines and tends to do it often, whether it’s moving Dominik Kubalik from the third or fourth line up to the first unit. The same can be said for Pius Suter and Joe Veleno. Raymond usually plays alongside Larkin or Andrew Copp at center when it’s all said and done. Sunday night in Toronto, it was rookie phenom Marco Kasper making his NHL debut centering the second line, which also included Raymond and Copp.
Lucas Raymond’s scoring slump isn’t all that concerning.
Lalonde isn’t concerned about Raymond’s current scoring slump but would like to see the young winger finish his scoring chances, and admits he is still learning how to compete every night.
“I forget how young he is at times and how much we ask of him,” said Lalonde, noting Raymond is often on the Wings’ top line and faces many of the NHL’s best players. “He’s been thrown into this league in a top-six role. He faces the other team’s top-line and top defensive pair every night. “He’s going to be a really good player going forward because of it.”
“I’d like to see more finish because he has been around those (offensive) chances,” Lalonde said. “I still think he’s learning how to compete every day. You can see when his compete is at a very high level, he’s a great player. All the tools are there.
“You’ve seen at times the tools, the compete. I still think he’s learning that. We’re trying to play the right way, holding everyone accountable and not cheating, being on the right side of the puck. He’s in the middle of the process, and it’s going good.”
Lucas Raymond has scored just one goal over his last 23 games, and it’s moderately concerning but not nearly the end of the world. Over the same span, the young winger has totaled seven assists for eight points, three of which came on the power play.
So far this season, Raymond has recorded 16 goals and 40 points in 68 games. Raymond was forced to miss some time due to a lower-body injury which hinders his overall totals, but when you look at his offensive production per game, he’s not that far off from last season. The 21-year-old averages 0.58 points per game in 2022-23, slightly down from 0.70 a year ago. Raymond’s goals per game sit at 0.24 from 0.28, and his assists per game are down to 0.34 per game from 0.41.
This season, Raymond maintains a Corsi For Percentage of 48.4 during even strength situations, which is similar to last season’s 48.9%. His Relative Corsi For Percentage sits at 1.9 during even strength, narrowly down from 3.7 last season.
There is no real cause for concern with Lucas Raymond; his offensive production is slightly down, but nothing here should spark any panic. Expect Raymond to take the step forward offensively many of us thought he would this season in 2023-24.