The question posed to Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill about rookie forward Lucas Raymond was puzzling, to say the least.
The answer, though, was incredibly intriguing.
In Boston after Wednesday’s win over the Bruins, a reporter asked Blashill if he saw a comparable between Raymond and Bruins irascible yet productive forward Brad Marchand.
Anyone who’s watched either player in action for any length of time would never draw that comparison. Blashill certainly hasn’t gone there – or anywhere else, for that matter.
“We haven’t talked lots about Raymond with particular players,” Blashill said.
— Barstool Detroit (@BSMotorCity) November 28, 2021
It’s not uncommon for coaches to cite experienced NHLers as case studies for newcomers to the league. For example, Blashill once unsuccessfully sought to get Anthony Mantha to pattern his game after some of the traits of productive net-front presence James van Riemsdyk.
No Need For Raymond To Pattern His Game After Others
He doesn’t see the need to encourage progress in Raymond’s game in this manner, and there’s a reason for that. When it comes to his hockey stylings, the Swedish rookie is truly his own man.
“In the end, Lucas has a very good grasp of what he is and he does a really good job of playing within his skill set and maximizing his own skillset,” Blashill said. “He hasn’t been somebody for me that we’ve had to say, ‘here’s who we want you to model your game after.’ Because I think he knows what he needs to be successful.”
Still only 19, Raymond is displaying a hockey IQ that is wise beyond his years. Numerically, there’s no questioning how his achievements are adding up. Raymond leads the Red Wings, as well as all NHL rookies, with 10 goals and 22 points.
Lucas Raymond. That's it. That's the tweet. pic.twitter.com/UlvTCz6RCI
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 2, 2021
His speed, his change of page and chicanery with the puck, his uncanny knack for reading the play locating seams all make him effective in the offensive zone. However, it’s as much about what he does when he doesn’t have the puck that is making Raymond an efficient NHLer.
“He’s done a really good job so far,” Blashill said. “He’s a good player. There’s zero doubt.
“Really smart, he plays the right way. And he’s been able to produce while also playing the right way. I think that’s the biggest key. That’s why he’s been so transferable.
“He doesn’t need to cheat to create offense. He earns ice time.”
Raymond’s Hockey IQ Is Impressive
Raymond’s own assessment of his game also is supplying indications that he treasures being considered an all-around player above all else.
“I think my main thing is to try to go out there and skate real hard,” Raymond said. “I feel like if I’m playing with pace I get into situations with speed and I get out of them with speed as well and get closer to the puck and get the puck as much as possible.
“So I think that’s my main thing coming into games and practices.”
His learning curve is proving to be impressive. He’s a quick study but perhaps, more importantly, is the first to admit that he’s a long way from having it all figured out.
“I’m trying to find my game and I’m still learning every day and trying to get better at the areas that are my weaknesses and always trying to improve my strengths,” Raymond said. “But overall, I’m just trying to be an offensive forward who you can count on defensively, who plays hard every night.
I’m still working and going to find my identity as it goes on.”