As the puck squeaked past Marc-Andre Fleury, Lucas Raymond raised his arms, celebrating his third goal of the game on October 25th. Completing the hat-trick and four-point game. This gave the hockey world a glimpse of what the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft can do. With 10 points in his first 11 games, he is off to a hot start and therefore an early candidate to win the Calder Trophy.
Lucas Raymond is Playing Great
In his draft year, Raymond didn’t have eye-popping numbers. He put up ten points in 33 games in a sheltered role while averaging a bit under ten minutes a night. However, his points per 60 minutes were a bit under two, suggesting he was able to produce when given the chance. This was despite him being the thirteenth forward on the team. Despite not producing, he looked good on the ice and Dobber Prospects labelled him as a “hard-working, dynamic offensive winger with high-end vision and creativity”. Steve Yzerman probably saw something along those lines and decided to take him with the fourth overall pick.
The next season, Raymond was given a bigger opportunity and produced accordingly. In one more game relative to the season prior, he had eight more points. His points/60 was a bit over two that season, 2.24 to be exact. The point production wasn’t spectacular but a leap in the right direction for sure. In the 2021 World Junior Championship, Raymond was a key contributor to his team. This was reflected with him tying for the team lead in points. However, the team went home without a medal and could not continue their preliminary-round winning streak.
Raymond started his pro-hockey career in North America with a bang. In his first three games, he had six points and had strong analytics to go with it. He led the team in xGF% and was third in CF%. However, as this was the beginning of pre-season, the opponents weren’t necessarily strong and it showed. In the next three games Raymond had no points, spluttering one shot per game and at the same time had weak possession numbers. He was second last in xGF% and CF% on his team which is not what you want. A weak performance in these three games wasn’t just him though, his linemates Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi were with him.
Is this the beginning of good news for Detroit Red Wings fans? Well, Raymond’s first three pre-season games were an indication of what was to come to start the regular season. That being an explosive start. Along with his 10 points, he is third in CF% and GF% and fourth in xGF% on the team. This is pretty good especially considering the fact that he is a rookie. So far, he has come just as advertised. It wasn’t just him as his linemates, Larkin and Bertuzzi bounced back as well. The line has been doing well so far and has been dominant: fifth in xGF% and 15th in CF% league-wide.
Looking at the regular season games Raymond has played, on two occasions he has had multi-point games. The first one was against the Columbus Blue Jackets where he had two points. The first of two occurred when Larkin received the puck in the neutral zone and entered the offensive zone with speed. When two defenders were in front of him, he decided to head over to the right side where he was met with Raymond flying up the ice. Larkin shovelled the puck onto the stick of Raymond.
With the flick of the wrist, the puck was perfectly placed over the glove of Joonas Korpisalo and into the net. Raymond’s first NHL goal is a beauty. To finish the game, his second and last point of the game was an assist. Although it was a secondary assist, it was a nice one. He side-stepped the opposition before dishing it out to his teammate who then had a two-on-one opportunity.
Three games later, Raymond had his next multi-point game and after that game, Iyer Prashanth tweeted out, “Lucas Raymond has the first 4 point game for a Red Wings rookie since some dudes named Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov in 1991”. In this feat, against the Chicago Blackhawks, Raymond recorded a hat-trick plus an assist.
The first goal started off when Blackhawks defender Calvin de Haan failed to clear the puck out of the defensive zone. Bertuzzi gained control of the puck before finding Raymond streaking down the middle of the ice. A quick move to the left opens the wickets of Fleury before Raymond finishes the play. The next goal he scores is off a rebound off the goalie, which Raymond bangs home. He caps off his four-point night with a shot that squeaks past Fleury, the goal depicted in the beginning.
Raymond is off to a great start but so is his teammate, Moritz Seider who is another Calder trophy candidate. The latter has eight points to start the season and currently averages the second-most ice time on the team. He has been good defensively and impressed thus far which resulted in him winning the October Rookie of the Month. It could be debated that the former should have won last month. This is due to his great play, which both the eye test and analytics users can agree upon. And it’s not like Raymond has been that sheltered either as seen through his offensive zone start % which is fifth on the team and defensive zone start % which is ninth.
With his strong play, Raymond has a chance to win the Calder trophy. This is because he has the tools he needs to succeed in the NHL and fans had a glimpse of it already, whether it was beating a goalie clean with his shot or deking his way into a goal. Using skills like these, Raymond will likely continue to rack up highlight-reel plays as he grows into a fun player to watch. It will be exciting to see whether Raymond can keep up his play and unfold into the star he was destined to be.