Mason Raymond could give Leafs options
As was reported, the Leafs recently invited 27-year-old winger Mason Raymond
to their training camp on a Professional Try Out (PTO) basis. What this means, is it costs the Leafs nothing to do so, and if he pans out and impresses at camp, the Leafs could sign him to what is likely to be a cheap contract. That’s a lot of ifs, but it’s boring to speculate that he won’t make it, because that leaves us at status quo.
If nothing else, it’s a sign that perhaps the cap situation isn’t quite as constricted as originally pontificated. With certain demotions to the AHL, the Leafs could potentially open up room to add Raymond, though it would have to be at a bargain contract.
Raymond is a quality offensive player who, with top 6 ice-time, could give you a 15 goal and 40ish point season. This past season, he put up 10 goals and 22 points in 46 games (prorated to 18 goals and 39 points), but the Canucks have some other options on the wing that they’d like to try. Youngsters Hunter Shinkaruk, Brendan Gaunce and Bo Horvat figure to be fighting to impress at Canucks camp, while David Booth and Zack Kassian will fight for increased ice-time. Ultimately the Canucks have enough skill in their lineup that they felt able to part ways with Raymond, though that means nothing as far as his ability to play and impact a game at the NHL level.
Raymond isn’t a physical player, and he likely doesn’t fit that aspect of Randy Carlyle’s coaching philosophy, but he can still be an effective and useful player. It’s never a bad idea to add a skill player in his prime, particularly when he comes on the cheap.
This reminds me of when Clarke MacArthur was a free-agent before the Leafs signed him in 2010. A late-summer addition on the wing with good speed and skill that might need some more ice-time to shine through. That, of course, would require a contract to be signed in this case, but there’s a similarity there. The Leafs lost some depth on the wing with the departure of the aforementioned MacArthur and Frattin (to LA in a multi-player deal for Bernier), so this makes up for that in some way.
Raymond could also allow McClement to play his natural centre position on the 4th line, or it could prevent the Leafs from dressing both Orr and McLaren on a nightly basis (please God). Should Lupul’s long string of injuries continue, Raymond could be plugged into the top-6, as mentioned.
Say he impresses, he might also facilitate a trade involving one of the Leafs’ current wingers. That’s getting a little ahead of ourselves, (and I don’t want to open the Lupul trade scenarios can of worms again) but it’s something to think about.
Shortly after the Raymond invite, news broke that the Leafs appeared to be inching toward closing in on a deal with their standout centre, Nazem Kadri. Perhaps he felt threatened (though they play different positions and Kadri is the better player), but any contract involving #43 would naturally affect what the Leafs offer Raymond.
In any case, I wouldn’t suspect that a contract would be much of an issue should Raymond have a good training camp. He’s desperate and motivated to show he belongs, and with that he could become an asset added on the cheap for the Leafs in a summer where they’ve lost a good amount of depth.
Low risk move with a possibility yield a fruitful reward.