It's funny what a difference a year can make. Last July I wondered if Mason Raymond was poised for a breakout season. I had mentioned:
Raymond is not a 3rd line checking winger. He needs a more prominent scoring role. He is also in the final year of his contract, and makes $760,000 this season. He is going to do everything to prove himself this year, starting with cursing Demitra's groin. While he's at it, he may as well curse Bernier's hands.
Well that mostly came true. But to Raymond's credit, he didn't need the failure of others to excel. The 24 year-old hauled ass by his own accord, having a career year (25 goals and 53 points in 82 games this season). Raymond's ice time jumped nearly 4 minutes per game on average and he saw a hell of a lot of time on the Canucks' second line.
MayRay put out a hell of an effort this season. He was stronger on his feet , his shot was a pin-pointed rocket and his game was overall more aggressive than last season. He was also banged around quite a bit but kept getting up like the feisty bugger that he is.
Here are some MayRay stats to digest:
-6th on the Canucks' forwards with time on ice.
-He played every game this season and the playoffs
-He faced opposing teams' top units most of the season, finished an even 0.
-Let's face it, playing with Ryan Kesler and Mikael Samuelsson for most of the season doesn't hurt.
-He had 64 hits in 82 games. That's more than Kyle Wellwood! I jest.
-3rd on the team with takeaways
-6th on the team in points and goals.
So here is my "beef": THE PLAYOFFS. In 12 playoff games this season Raymond had 3 goals and 1 assist. In 22 career playoff games with Van he only has 5 goals and 7 points. Of course, he didn't have a prominent role in the 2008-09 playoffs, and his centerman Ryan Kesler was injured in this year's playoffs. But let's not make too many excuses, right? Well, maybe. Mason is 24 years old. Seemingly the biggest way he makes players around him better is if he buries his scoring chances when the puck is passed to him. He seems more of a sniper than playmaker.
Put 10 more pounds on, Raymond, and let's see what you got. And keep shooting! Generally he is listed as 6 feet tall and about 170 pounds. I think he's pushing 185 right now, at least. The way he likes to barge into the opponent's zone, I'd like to see him be a bit stronger when cutting to the net and even along the boards.
To his credit, I have lost count as to how many penalties Raymond drew this year due to his work ethic and especially his speed.
Unless Mike Gillis sees a bonafide keeper here, Mason's case is going to arbitration this summer.
Play the armchair GM. What would you do? What kind of deal would you sign Raymond to? I'll tell you my POV: Go for a 2 year deal at about $2 million per season. If they don't bite on that let an arbitrator decide.