Throughout May, we’re taking a look at the Canucks’ roster and organization. Today’s subject: Mason Raymond
VANCOUVER – He showed up at his first Canucks camp in September, 2007, and blew people away with his speed.
He quietly set a goal for himself of becoming a 30-goal scorer in the NHL.
And a couple of seasons ago his 25 goals hinted that Mason Raymond would harness the skills he had that you couldn’t teach and become a dangerous force opposing teams would have to reckon with.
But hint turned to tease, the winger regressing to 25 goals combined over the past two seasons.
There are two issues here.
The first is his broken back in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final a season ago and the long, hard struggle Raymond has had rehabbing and getting back to game shape, in body and mind.
But the other issue is this: How much of that 25-goal season in 2009-10 was a mirage?
Put it this way, Raymond got most of his goals that year in the first half of the season – he was on a 35-goal pace at Christmas.
Since then, consider these numbers: Counting playoffs, Raymond has 38 goals in his past 209 games.
That, folks, works out exactly to 15 goals per 82 games.
But it gets even worse.
In the past three postseasons, Raymond has scored just five goals in 41 games.
No one is bothered more by this than Raymond himself.
He’s heard of the drinking games (toss back a shot every time he falls), he’s heard the snide criticisms about how he likes to go wide, the derision at his wrap-around attempts, the slaps to the forehead for every one of his shots that hits a goalie smack in the middle of the chest.
If it wasn’t for his blazing speed, it would be easy for the Canucks to let Raymond walk when he becomes a restricted free agent on July 1.
Seriously, how does Raymond rate $550,000 a year more than Alex Burrows gets paid?
As defensively responsible as he has attempted to become (he was minus-3 in the playoffs), Raymond’s value is as a top-six forward, not playing on the third or fourth lines.
Maybe a fresh start somewhere out of the limelight – Nashville, anyone? – would help Raymond as it helped another former Canuck who had speed to burn but couldn’t buy goals, Michael Grabner.
How 2011-12 went: Raymond missed the first 25 games of the season as he rehabbed his back from the broken vertebrae he suffered on his first shift of Game 6 in the Stanley Cup final.
Dealing with the injury had two effects on Raymond: It matured him, giving him a different perspective on life; and it made him shy away from traffic even more as hurting his back again was always on his mind.
Key stat: Over the course of the final six regular-season games and the five games against Los Angeles in the playoffs, Raymond was minus-8, had two assists, and no goals on 12 shots.
Raymond registered no shots in the Kings series.
What the future brings: Every once in awhile Raymond shows remarkable patience and puck control and looks like a young Steve Yzerman circling in the opponent’s zone. The other 98 per cent of the time he brings to mind Macbeth: “Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Contract status: Raymond signed a two-year, $5.1-million deal in 2010. He’s set to become a restricted free agent on July 1.
Team options: The Canucks could try to package Raymond in any deal they might be contemplating for a blue-chip defenceman or a centre who could fill in for Ryan Kesler during his rehab.