April 23, 2020

Raymond leaves impression on draft season

Lucas Raymond is certainly one to leave an impression.

Even as one of the youngest players in the Swedish Hockey League this season.

Raymond, playing as a 17-year-old, left his mark on the league and scouts alike as he navigated the competition — both on the ice and against his peers — towards the 2020 NHL Draft.

“It was a very, very good season for me playing in the men’s league with all that talent,” said Raymond, who turned 18 just two weeks ago. “It’s a huge difference playing against men than in juniors. It was an extremely valuable season for me. You always want to perform better and play better regardless of if you play well. I’m very happy with the season and I developed a lot.”

Raymond, making the jump to men’s hockey on a full-time basis after skating 10 games with Frolunda in 2018-19, had 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 33 games.

The totals are modest, but impactful given his age.

The experience was much more productive for the 5-foot-11, 170-pound winger.

“We had probably the best team in all of Europe this season,” said Raymond, No. 4 in Future Considerations’ Spring ranking for the 2020 draft. “It was a tough competition. We had guys who have won SHL scoring titles every year and very, very good guys. It was a tough environment but at the same time, that was very helpful as well. You have to fight for your spot. You have to steal someone’s job to be able to play.

“That was a really good experience. I learned a lot.”

Finding ice time may have been a struggle at times for Raymond, who is among a trio of highly-regarded Swedish prospects for the 2020 draft alongside Alexander Holtz and Noel Gunler, but the opportunity to learn wasn’t.

There was plenty for Raymond to absorb.

“The coaching staff helped me a lot, watching video all the time almost,” he said. “All the players are such great guys as well. They helped me a lot also, watching video and teaching me tricks you can use on the ice to improve or be more efficient, stuff like that. I got help from a lot of guys.

“I got all the help I needed.”

Including from one who has been through the process.

Frolunda teammate Brandon Gormley, a first round pick of the Arizona Coyotes in 2011, helped shoulder the load in teaching the Goteborg product how to ride the choppy waves of what can be a trying draft season.

Not that Raymond put his focus there.

“During the season I tried not to think about it…I tried to focus on Frolunda, the team and playing good,” said Raymond, who had four points (two goals, two assists) for Sweden at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship. “I didn’t really think about it.

“I don’t think so. All I was thinking about was playing good and I didn’t really think about the draft or anything like that. My focus was on winning games and playing good. My focus was on Frolunda. That was our whole team’s mindset. That was all I was thinking about as well.

“But I had a lot of great players on our team and it was a great, great team with players that had been drafted like Brandon Gormley. I think he was 13th overall. We talked about it sometimes and he gave me his experience and how it was. We talked about it a bit, but I tried to block it out and just focus on playing hockey.”

He doesn’t have that luxury anymore.

With the season wrapped, coupled with a bit of uncertainty about the details for the 2020 draft, Raymond knows there’s nothing further he can do to help his draft stock.

Lots of time to think about it.

Not a lot of time to do anything about it.

No more impressions left to leave.

“I think it’s a mix,” Raymond said. “It’s not a good feeling not being able to control anything, but in the same way knowing you can’t do anything, you have to wait and see what happens. I’m not stressing about it. You just have to wait and see what happens.”

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