Mason Raymond is a free agent who is set to hit the open market on July 1. If Ron Hextall wants his team to get faster, signing Raymond should be high on his priority list.
Raymond, 28, has been a consistent NHLer for the last six seasons. He spent five of them with the Vancouver Canucks and the past season with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Raymond does not provide the skill that will get him to the first line, but he is a great player who could bring scoring punch to the second or third line.
The biggest knock on Raymond is his size. He only stands six feet tall and weighs 185 lbs, which allows stronger defenders to knock him off the puck without much effort. There is only one problem with that criticism, the defenders have to catch him first. Raymond makes up for his small frame with elite speed. He is a burner who can create offense while a defender is trying to chase him down.
Fast forward to the twenty-five second mark. Raymond is no. 12 in blue. Watch his poise with the puck. He does not panic when the passing lanes are taken away. He uses the net as a shield, walks up to the hashmarks and rips a shot past Roberto Luongo to tie the game.
Here, you can get a glimpse of how fast Raymond is. He is the high forward on the far boards. Also notice the backhand shot he lifts over Ben Bishop for the goal.
During his first press conference as general manager, Hextall said advanced statistics would play a factor in assembling the team. Raymond’s advanced stats only make him look better.
Advanced statistics have been tracked since the 2011-12 season and last season was the first time Raymond has had a positive CorsiRel. For context, let’s not forget Raymond was playing with Nazem Kadri, who is an exceptional young talent. Raymond also started 27.2 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, 38.2 percent in the neutral zone and 34.7% in the defensive zone.
Raymond also fits into the mold of playing disciplined hockey. Last season he totaled 22 penalty minutes. Similar to one of the pros of the R.J. Umberger deal, fewer minutes in the penalty box can help the Flyers establish a better rhythm during even strength.
What makes Raymond even more appealing is his bang-for-buck value. Toronto gave him a one-year, $1 million contract and he delivered. Raymond scored 19 goals and totaled 45 points on the second line. Twelve of his 19 goals were scored at even strength. The Flyers are a poor even-strength team and signing Raymond adds scoring depth to the middle lines.
Raymond could also bring some much needed scoring prowess to the second power play unit. During the 2013-14 season, he tallied six power play goals and racked up 11 points on the man advantage. Raymond is not only an offensive minded player, he also plays a defensive role as well. Last season, he averaged 1:21 on the penalty killing unit.
The Flyers pushing against the projected salary cap ceiling with $1.8 million in space, Hextall will have to dump a contract or two if he wants to add Raymond to the roster.