Red Wings prospect Lucas Raymond spoke with Rakapuckar’s Henrik Leman regarding his recovery from elbow surgery and his decision to head over to North America this upcoming season, and the Free Press’s Helene St. James spoke with Leman regarding the Wings’ plans for Raymond.
What follows is a rough translation of Leman’s article:
The 20-21 season has somehow never ended for Lucas Raymond. The injured (and operated upon) elbow kept him away from the end of Frolunda’s season, but he had hoped to make a comeback–but that hope died when his teammates crash-landed vs. Rogle.
“I wanted to be in game shape, so I trained pretty hard until the season ended. Then I felt that I should just as easily continue doing so…Ha ha.”
His first skate after a while was skating on the ice with Andreas Larsson (Hockey PT), who was in Kungsbacka last week, where Raymond was one of the many stars who kept skating.
It was a good test for Raymond’s operated-upon elbow. One that has turned out so well that the subject can be deleted.
“Yes, you can see that we trained quite hard; I feel safe, I don’t feel it at all. It’s very-nice,” says the ex-Frolunda winger.
Step one when taking the first step from the SHL to the NHL is an injury-free body, well-trained, well-prepared. Undoubtedly, Lucas Raymond can tick those boxes.
But then…The young Gotenburger does come over with huge demands on himself. Detroit’s hard-luck fans are waiting for all their exciting draft picks in the coming years to make Steve Yzerman’s rebuild successful again.
Few have higher expectations than Lucas Raymond, the 4th overall pick in the draft last year. Maybe not immediately, but over time; if this Gotenburger doesn’t grow into something of a dominant NHL forward, disappointed voices will be heard.
How do you handle such pressure? Do you even feel it? Raymond says: “I think it’s fun.”
Just fun? Doesn’t it create expectations that are too high?
“I like to have pressure on me, I feel that you have more responsibility from more than yourself. It’s great fun. It gives me extra motivation. But it’s important to take things humbly, to work hard, and not float away.”
Helene St. James has been following the Red Wings for the Detroit Free Press since 1996, and she’s written the book: The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings. Few have her eye on the glorious hockey organization. When I contacted Helene and asked for her thoughts on Lucas Raymond and his future in Detroit, she said:
“Bringing Raymond over to North America means that he can begin to acclimatize to the narrower rinks. As long as the Wings are in a “rebuild” and are replenishing their roster with younger players, GM Steve Yzerman won’t hurry any player, he has said. The Wings were happy how Raymond developed (with Frolunda) until his injury, and I would think that he’ll play on a top line during training camp so that the team can see what he looks like with skilled players–but given the usual routine, Raymond will probably start the season with Grand Rapids in the AHL. If he looks dominant there, he’ll be first in line to be called up.”
“The Wings believe very much in Raymond, and this is an important first step for him. But I must emphasize again, even if the Wings need offensive help, the organization is certain that, in order to achieve success over time, young players must be ready before they can play full-time in the NHL.”
Lucas Raymond is of course aware that it will be tough to get involved immediately, and that AHL games are conceivably his way forward, for him as well as many other prospects.
But he does not address it voluntarily when the subject comes up, and instead, his answer is quite concise:
“Of course I want to earn a spot (in the NHL); otherwise I wouldn’t go over. That’s what I’m aiming for, and that’s what I dream of doing.
Lucas Raymond will travel across the Atlantic before playing dominant hockey at home. As many Swedish players have done for some time now.
You know how the debate usually sounds here at home: young players are in too much of a hurry, they should stay longer, etc., and none less than Frolunda’s coach, Roger Ronnberg, has often squabbled using that view.
The question is more complex than that, that’s my firm opinion. Certainly, some would feel good about staying a year longer in Sweden, but not all. It’s an individual decision, where you’re both physically and mentally ready, and it depends not the least upon what the development curve looks like for one’s Swedish team.
I wrote early on that I was absolutely sure that Detroit and Raymond would believe that moving over to North America this summer/fall would be best. This time, I was never close to being wrong.
“Detroit was very eager to bring me over, and I was also hungry,” says Raymond, who briefly discusses his decision:
“I’m very hungry, and it feels like the best [move] for me.”
Have you reflected upon the debate in Sweden?
“No, I haven’t even noticed it. I think that, as you say, it’s a very individual decision. It depends on where you are in terms of your hockey game, but above all, where you are mentally. Some leave too early, some on time, and some too late.”
“And you never have the answer until afterwards.”
Sometime in August, Lucas Raymond will go over to Michigan to start his new adventure. The idea is that he will take part in both the prospect tournament and the main camp, and maybe he will arrive in the U.S. with a bit sharper skating.
Rolle Johannisson, the skating guru who works with Detroit and whose sharpening helped extend Joel Lundqvist’s career, has changed the “bowl” (depth) of Raymond’s blades, from 22 to 34.
“You get a better glide above all. I’ve been afraid of going up so much, afraid of losing my footing, but Rolle made a [skate blade] profile that I liked. At this level, it comes down to small details, if you can find small things that work, it can make a big difference,” Raymond explains.