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Lucas Raymond Season Update: Sophomore Slump?

Main Photo: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports

Lucas Raymond burst onto the NHL scene last season scoring 57 points in 82 games as a 19-year-old rookie. In this 2022-23 season, Raymond got off to a slow start. Yet following his stat line leading into the All-Star break, we see that Raymond is poised to break out in the second half of this season.

Season Update: Lucas Raymond and the Dreaded Sophomore Slump

The First 24 Games

To begin the season, Lucas Raymond came out of the gate slowly. He tallied three goals and two assists in the first 10 games, below his mark last season of 0.68 points per game (PPG). He followed that by scoring nine points in the following 10 games, for a total of 14 points in 20 games. Already, Raymond is scoring at a higher per-game rate than in his rookie season. In the final four games of this 24-game stretch, Raymond only tallied one goal.

At 0.63 PPG, Raymond did start the season slower than was expected. However, this was not as extreme as many fans have claimed. His rookie season did see him pop off with 22 points in his first 24 games, but many factors played into this. As stated above, this is only 0.05 PPG lower than his rookie season.

First, he was consistently playing on the top line with Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi. They had extremely good chemistry and maximized each other’s strengths. This season, Raymond has floated between the top two lines, even playing on the third line at times. This lack of consistency often leads to a drop in production. This is especially true for a cerebral player like Raymond who relies on playing off teammates to produce offense.

Second, the Red Wings have many more offensive threats this season. Between Copp, Kubalik, and Perron, Lalonde had more trigger men to choose from. This spreads out the offense in a way the Wings couldn’t in 2021-22.

Lastly, opposing teams this season are game-planning for Raymond. They saw his tape, knew he was a threat, and focused on him to start the season. They did at the end of last season as well, and it showed in Raymond’s slow production. Yet, as we will see, Raymond has been learning to adapt to all of this: new linemates, systems, and challenges.

The Second 24 Games

Off the top, it does not seem that the second 24 games have gone much better than the first for Lucas Raymond. He has 17 points, only two more than the first 24. Overall, this brings his PPG up to 0.67, which is right on track with last year’s pace.

Even more notable is Raymond’s pace in the 12 games heading into the All-Star break. Raymond has nine points in those twelve games, a 0.75 PPG pace. Heading into the break, Raymond was showing he had found his groove. He seems to have adapted to the opposition game-planning for him, as well as the new system under Lalonde.

The Final 44 Games

This conversation begs the question, where does Lucas Raymond go from here? There are a couple of main factors to keep in mind as we predict how Raymond will finish.

First, momentum and confidence are huge for players. Raymond is extremely driven and competitive, and this break will not take away the momentum and confidence gained from this recent stretch. Raymond will come back well-rested and ready to play.

Second, so far this season, Raymonds’ points/60 minutes is exactly then same as his rookie year (2.3). He is playing less even strength minutes as he is not always on the top line. Yet, still produces at about the same pace. He has made up the gap in even strength time on the power play, where he has been lethal.

Last season, Raymond had five goals and 13 assists on the powerplay. Already this season, Raymond has five goals and nine assists, a 24 point pace. And that’s including an 8 game stretch where he has not recorded a powerplay point.

Lastly, the Red Wings will surely try and sell pieces at the deadline, and that opens up opportunity for Raymond. More time on the ice, both even strength and on the powerplay, will lead to better results.

If Raymond keeps up the pace he was on headed into the All-Star break, he will end this season with 27 goals, 38 assists, and 65 points in 82 games. While I do expect regression to the mean for the young star, it is more likely than not that Raymond matches or surpasses his output from his rookie season. Not only that, but he will continue to improve as an all around player.

All Stats via Hockey-Reference.


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