Wings’ Lucas Raymond playing key part in Sweden’s fast start at hockey worlds

Detroit News

Detroit — Maybe this is a sign of things to come for Lucas Raymond.

The Red Wings forward took a minor step back in his development this past season, seeing his offensive production slide while adjusting to playing under a new coaching staff.

Raymond acknowledged the difficulties and was already looking forward to next season after the Wings’ last game.

A week into the men’s world championship tournament, Raymond is showing the confidence in his offensive ability that may have been lagging at times.

Raymond, playing for his native Sweden, scored two shootout goals (teams are allowed to use the same shooter after the first five skaters have shot in international shootouts) to lead Sweden to a 2-1 victory over the defending champion, and host, Finland.

The victory moved the Swedes are 3-0 in the tournament with eight points (one of the victories a shootout win), trailing Group A leader Team USA (3-0-0, nine points, all regulation victories).

Raymond had 17 goals and 28 assists for the Wings this season, while missing eight games due to a lower-body injury after a practice collision in February. The numbers were down from his 23 goals and 34 assists in Raymond’s rookie season, when he finished fourth in Calder Trophy voting (teammate Moritz Seider won the Calder last year).

“This year was a little bit different for me,” Raymond said in his season-ending Zoom call with media. “I grew a lot on and off the ice as well.

“Everyone wants to score goals, and me in particular. That’s always frustrating. But it’s just about sticking with it and doing the right things and focusing on playing good.

“The rest will come.”

Raymond, 21, needs to keep getting stronger physically, and that’s an area he will focus on this summer.

“Coming up in the Frolunda (Swedish junior) program that’s always been a big focus, to get stronger and bigger and get to that level,” Raymond said. “I’m young, and my body is still developing. The gym is going to be a big part for me this summer to get bigger and stronger but (not to) lose my agility on the ice.

“That combination is huge.”

Raymond’s effort against Finland was a highlight, but other Wings have made key contributions for their countries in the group play, round-robin stage:

Jonatan Berggren, Sweden: Berggren actually has better statistics overall than Raymond, with three assists in three games, with a plus-two rating.

Berggren has been getting important ice time for Sweden and showing the offensive capability he flashed early in the season with the Wings, before the grind of an 82-game NHL regular season appeared to slow him down.

With some time off between the end of the Wings’ season and the world championships, Berggren appears to have been re-energized.

Moritz Seider, Germany: Seider has one assist in three games for winless Germany. A lack of offense has hurt the Germans, who have five goals in the three games in Group A.

Seider is playing over 20 minutes per game and, arguably, been one of Germany’s best players.

Dominik Kubalik, Czechia: Kubalik has three goals and three assists in three games while helping Czechia to a surprising 2-0-1 start in Group B. A notorious streaky goal-scorer, Kubalik could spark the Czechs on a surprising run if he can continue his hot start.

Olli Maatta, Finland: You know this tournament means a lot for Maatta, who is getting to represent Finland, which is hosting the tournament in Tampere. Maatta has one assist in the three games, with a plus-one rating. Finland is off to a sluggish 1-1-1 start and also is having difficulty getting offense, with only six goals in the three games.

Joe Veleno, Canada: There was some mild surprise when Veleno, 23, was named to the Canadian roster. But Veleno has been a steady contributor, with one goal, one assist and a plus-two rating in three games. Canada has outscored its three opponents 13-3 and appears to be a heavy favorite to secure a medal.

Carter Mazur and coach Derek Lalonde, USA: Mazur, a Jackson native who has just six games of pro hockey on his resume (in Grand Rapids), hasn’t looked out of his element. Mazur has one assist in three games, with a plus-three rating, and is getting regular ice time in a checking role. Lalonde, an assistant on David Quinn’s coaching staff, has helped guide a young USA roster to an impressive start, outscoring its three opponents 14-4.

There is also one local player on the Team USA roster in Ronnie Attard (White Lake/Western Michigan), a 24-year-old defenseman who made his NHL debut with Philadelphia this season. He scored a goal in USA’s 3-2 victory over Germany on Monday, keeping the Americans undefeated. Attard has one goal in three games with a plus-one rating.

Twitter: @tkulfan

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