Earlier this week we had a look at Maxim Lapierre and whether he might be a player that follows his former coach Alain Vigneault to New York this summer. Another such candidate – and like Lapierre, a pending free agent – is Mason Raymond. The prospect of Raymond may excite fans a little more than the loyal foot soldier that is Lapierre.
Raymond has skill and a scoring touch, although his recent returns haven’t been impressive. This season Raymond had just 22 points (10 goals) in 46 games during the regular season, while playing close to sixteen minutes per game (1.51 P/60). Raymond, who can play both wings, has previously managed a fifty point season during the one season he played a full calendar (82 games, in 09-10). He’s played 55, 70, and 72 games in each of his other seasons.
Despite playing for a perennial powerhouse in Vancouver, the 27-year-old winger never fully established himself as a top six forward, although it should be argued that the Canucks have always had a lot of competition for spaces. Raymond is a guy could benefit from a change of scenery –much like Derick Brassard did– and his ability to play both wings will surely find him new employment if he does indeed look for that change of scenery. Considering Vancouver’s pending cap problems, that change of scenery could also be Raymond simply pricing himself out of town.
Given his declining production (over the past two seasons) there’s no guarantees that Raymond will even want to follow his former coach to New York, but different line mates and a different locale may be all the change that Raymond needs to get back to 50-point standard. The tricky thing for potential suitors is deciding what edition of Raymond they would be getting. Is the 2009-10 version a one-off, or are multiple 50-point, 20-goal seasons merely waiting to be released?
Adding Raymond could give the Rangers added scoring depth and provide flexibility (again, given his ability to play both sides) and he could potentially be a secondary option for the powerplay, given his 18 points gained on with the extra man in his standout 2010 season. When given the opportunity Raymond will shoot; during the 2010 season he registered over 200 shots so it’s no coincidence it was his most productive year.
The concerns around Raymond – apart from the isolated one year production – could focus on his lack of physicality, his injury proneness and streaky scoring. Raymond made $2.275m last year, quite a chunk of cash for a guy entering free agency on the back of 22 and 23 point seasons. Throw in the lack of quality forwards this summer, he’ll be able to command that kind of remuneration –and probably more– whether with the Canucks or elsewhere.
From a Rangers perspective questions need to be asked whether Mason Raymond is what this team needs: Is he yet another player with potential, but one that is not physically imposing, and one that would join the Rangers with question marks? In a week free agent market, at 27 and with a 50-point season on his resume, Raymond will find work. Whether it’s in New York remains to be seen, but depth is certainly a glaring issue for the Rangers. If price isn’t prohibitive, adding a former 25-goal scorer to a low risk contract makes sense, especially when factoring in the familiarity with the coaching staff.