How exciting is Mason Raymond to watch?
When the All-Star Game returns to the schedule next season I’d love to see Raymond take on the Ilya Kovalchuks and Alex Ovechkins of the league in the fastest skater competition. It’s players with focused skills like Raymond who make it easy to argue for the inclusion of all players into a league-wide skills competition.
His 12th goal of the season against the Los Angeles Kings Monday night set a new benchmark in his career, surpassing his previous career high of 11 he accumulated last season in 72 games. Not only that, but it was a goal-scorer’s goal: streaking down the open wing, taking advantage of a couple bunched up and confused defenders, crashing to the net and neatly sneaking the disc through Jonathan Quick’s legs when the ‘tender showed pokecheck.
A second-rounder from 2005, Raymond is in his third NHL season (second full campaign) and clearly enjoying what will be a breakout effort. Building off previous 22- and 23-point totals, Raymond is now on pace to grab more than 50 points and is a threat to hit 30 goals. I don’t know how many fans were expecting these types of offensive results from the youngster this season, but considering the team finished 2008-09 with only one 30-goal scorer, Raymond’s surge couldn’t be more welcome to a team bereft of a consistent secondary threat.
Players generally should be given five years before realistic career expectations can be set. Prior to the lockout, Henrik Sedin’s career-high was 42 points and Brother Daniel’s 54 was an anomaly at that point. Neither had fine-tuned their most attractive attributes (Daniel’s highest goal total was 20 and Henrik’s best assist season was 31), but in 2005-06, the fifth year for the duo, they busted out with 70-plus point seasons. Since then, Henrik hasn’t been below 57 assists and Daniel has hit at least 29 goals in each of the past three seasons.
Raymond still has two more NHL seasons after this one before his fifth is in the books, so his coming-of-age this year is a little ahead of schedule.
How high can Raymond’s goal and point totals go? His 6-foot, 182-pound frame is very projectable, his speed helps him gain body position around defenders, he’s not afraid to drive to the net and he’s even out-muscled opponents at times as well. If he continues his 53-point pace this year and continues to improve between now and 2012 it’s reasonable to ponder if he could hit 75 or even 80 points eventually.
At the very least, he’s quickly morphing into the secondary scoring threat Vancouver has been sorely searching for.
This article also appeared in the Vancouver Metro newspaper.
Rory Boylen is TheHockeyNews.com’s web content specialist and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Tuesdays.
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