Where Does Mason Raymond Fit On The Flames?

Based on what he’d accomplished when he was signed with the Calgary Flames, I was somewhat excited when the team locked up Mason Raymond for a three-year deal last summer. He had speed. He had shown himself to be a pretty capable offensive player. And he’s about the same age as I am, for whatever that’s worth.

So you can imagine my immense disappointment when Mason Raymond’s first season in Calgary came and went largely without fanfare. Not only did it unfold without “fanfare,” but Raymond engaged in a virtual free-fall down the team’s depth chart throughout the season, eventually spending the playoffs on the fourth line with Brandon Bollig and Josh Jooris. (And that was because Lance Bouma was hurt, because Raymond had been a healthy scratch down the stretch.)

Now that the Flames have added Michael Frolik in the off-season, and that they have to juggle the waiver statuses of Micheal Ferland and Drew Shore (and the emergence of Sam Bennett), where does Mason Raymond fit in on the roster?

To get a sense of where it all went wrong for Raymond, I refer back to Bob Hartley’s lengthy chat with “Boomer” and Ryan Pinder this past week, which began with an acknowledgement that Raymond was injured in training camp and never really got out of the starting blocks (despite his hat-trick against the Oilers early in the season):

After this, Johnny Gaudreau progression took over and obviously there’s competition. There’s no given jobs with the Calgary Flames. You have to earn everything and once you earn it, you need to keep even working harder because you need to keep it because we’re telling the guys behind you, go after him because that’s how we’re going to get better…

I think that Mason, had a decent start but then probably got surprised. He had a few injuries, then Johnny went on a tear and basically stole his spot. Then it was tough for Mason to get going. But hey, it’s water under the bridge…

So, is Raymond a top line player? Nope. He’s definitely behind Johnny Gaudreau and Jiri Hudler. He’s also probably behind Michael Frolik. After those guys? Well, this quote from Hartley, where he discusses energy players, probably tells you everything you need to know about what Raymond needs to do.

You look at the Josh Jooris, you look at the Paul Byron, you look at the Lance Bouma, you know, even Brandon Bollig and everything. Those guys are forcing me in many games to give them ice time because of their intensity, because of their grit, because of their passion, their commitment to make the Flames a winning hockey club. For Mason, for everybody else, it’s the same rules for everyone.

Basically, we all experienced Top Six Forward Lance Bouma because of Bouma’s intensity and/or Raymond’s lack thereof. Heck, Raymond was a healthy scatch SEVEN TIMES last year, while Bouma was rarely scrached and, let’s face it, was rarely healthy. With Sam Bennett likely starting at centre, that means there’s a top six spot available for somebody on the left side behind Gaudreau (with Hudler and Frolik on the right side).

According to Hartley, it’s a fresh start with this coming training camp. But Raymond really needs a strong camp, probably more than any other player on the entire roster. He carries a $3.15 million cap hit, which is slightly more than Matt Stajan, who has proven to be a lot more useful for the hockey club. And with the Flames looking to cement new deals with impending restricted free agents Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, along with probably trying to clear cap space to retain one or both of Jiri Hudler and Kris Russell before their deals are up on July 1, if I’m a player with Raymond’s cap hit and history of spending nights in the press box I’m spending my summer getting my ducks in a row so I can claim a spot on the team.

Hopefully last year was a aberration for Raymond. He’s shown he can be a very valuable depth player and provide some offensive options for his team. But he showed very little of that last season, and Lance Bouma played more than he did when the Flames were trying to cement a playoff position. If Raymond doesn’t display the skill of a top-six winger or the hustle and energy of a bottom-six player on a day-to-day basis, I don’t know where he fits on the Calgary Flames going forward – especially with the Flames juggling roughly 16 or 17 forwards for just 14 NHL spots.

If he has a weak camp, there’s a good chance he’ll end up in the press box. Or the AHL’s Stockton Heat, where the Flames would be paying him his NHL salary (and eating up $2.2 million of their salary cap) to tuck him quietly out of the way and clear space for other players.

It’s very likely a do or die training camp for Mason Raymond.

  • Cfan in Vic

    It’s a little funny cause Treliving has done great since coming here but he even admits he signed/acquired players in his first free agency period here because he didn’t know yet how deep we were. All the players he signed/acquired that offseason don’t really have a spot here anymore. Raymond, Bollig, Engelland and Hiller are all kinda the odd men out and they were all brought in at the same time. Funny how that works out.

    Gaudreau-Monahan-Hudler

    Colborne-Bennett-Frolik

    Bouma-Backlund-Jones

    Ferland-Stajan-Jooris

    Byron/Shore

    Gio-Brodie

    Russell-Hamilton

    Wilson-Wideman

    Smid

    Ramo/Ortio

    • ChinookArchYYC

      “Raymond, Bollig, Engelland and Hiller are all kinda the odd men out and they were all brought in at the same time. Funny how that works out.”

      Good point. Except for Hiller all these guys, plus Colburne will test the always earned, never given mantra this team claimes to uphold. Personally, I’d be over the moon to see both Engelland and Bollig out, as there is no way there aren’t upgrades currently on the roster. That said, I don’t beleive it will happen (Engelland especially).

        • MontanaMan

          It’s a long 82 game season and the Flames need Engelland to play a role and to protect the small and skilled forwards. Yes he handles the puck like a hand grenade and he shouldn’t be anywhere near the top 4 defencemen but he has a role and with his contract, untradeable. With that, I am good with keeping him around.

          • everton fc

            Bollig and Engelland serve a purpose when teams like Anaheim and the Kings come to town.

            As for Raymond, here’s hoping he’s healthy at the beginning of camp, and proves us all wrong, My personal issue with his contract being this long a term was his fragility. He was damaged goods coming in here. It was the same reason I never wanted Richards when Feaster was thinking that was a smart move. Never sign damaged goods to a long term contract.

          • Train#97

            I’m assuming that “purpose” Bollig/Engelland serve is to get hemmed-in while teams like Anaheim and the Kings fire rubber at our goalies?

            Because at the NHL level, that’s all they can manage.

          • Train#97

            Guess I should back that up

            Engelland vs ANA on the ice for 2 GF / 7 GA
            Engelland vs LA on the ice for 1 GF / 2 GA
            Engelland vs STL on the ice for 0 GF / 3 GA
            Engelland vs WAS on the ice for 0 GF / 3 GA

            Boy, those big, bad physical teams sure are intimidated by the opportunity to outscore the Flames 15-3!

          • RedMan

            when I see these stats, I realize quickly that Engelland is an OFFENSIVE player, not defensive. he was on the ice for ALL the Flames goals! he is an offensive dynamo and is being used wrong!

          • everton fc

            I should clarify; I should have said, “Management appears to believe Bollig and Engelland serve a purpose when teams like Anaheim and L.A. are in town.”

            My personal opinion is both are replaceable. But neither will be.

    • KACaribou

      Agree, almost. You are one of the only people here who puts Hamilton in the second pairing and leaves Gio-Brodie alone as the first. Completely agree, people are conceding Hamilton as being the second coming of Al McInnis and putting him with Gio by default.

      I like your lines but I see Ferly on the second line and Colborne on the fourth. I like Big Joe’s progression the past year or two but I don’t see him and Frolik doing the dirty work Ferly can do to help out his chippy 19 year old centre.

      Love the Ramo/Ortio combo.

  • beloch

    Raymond’s WOWY has been all over the place the last few seasons, which is not all that surprising given that he’s been all over the place, literally. Three teams in three years.

    During his last season in Vancouver, Raymond was a possession anchor. He made most of his linemates worse and scored an abysmal 16 points in the process. In Toronto he did just the opposite and made nearly all his linemates better. He also had his second-best NHL season in terms of points. He really turned things around the season before last, or so it appeared. It’s worth noting that the Canucks were a much better possession team than the Leafs. Raymond likely just looked better when placed on a far worse team. Raymond was also given more minutes in Toronto.

    Last season’s Flames fell somewhere between the Canucks of three seasons ago and the Leafs of two seasons ago in terms of possession. Not surprisingly, Raymond turned out to look pretty average last season. He didn’t significantly affect the possession stats of his linemates for better or for worse. His point generation (and TOI) fell back down to around where it was in his last two seasons as a Canuck too. Disappointing, but probably not surprising.

    So, what should we expect from Raymond? Probably more of the same. He’s not going to drive possession and he’s not going to score 30-40 points unless he stays healthy and plays a lot of minutes. However, what are Hartley’s other options for LW?

    • Bouma isn’t going to drive possession in the top six, but at least he crashes and bangs in a satisfying manner. He was lucky to score 34 points last season, largely thanks to having the third highest sh% on the team. His point production will probably regress.
    • Ferland still hasn’t played enough games for us to tell what kind of possession player he is, or if he can score on a consistent basis. He sure showed promise during the playoffs though!
    • Bollig… should not be playing most nights.
    • Byron is probably the only guy who we know can play #2LW and actually drive possession. He made his linemates not just a little better, but substantially better last season. Even with cursed hands he almost produced as much as Raymond did.
    • Colborne actually made Raymond worse when they played together (as with most of his other linemates). He did score at a decent pace though. Colborne still seems to be less than the sum of his parts.

    The #1LW position is locked up by Gaudreau. Barring injury, that’s not going to change. The second and third lines are likely to be a scoring line and a shut-down line, centered by Bennett and Backlund respectively. There could be considerable jostling for the LW positions on these two lines. Byron, as underrated as he may be, scores about as much as Raymond but is a far better possession player, so I’d bet on him locking up one of these positions before Raymond does. Maybe he doesn’t have enough finish to play with Bennett, but he’d really help Backlund tilt the ice. Then again, maybe the pocket rocket will start getting apples on breakaways if he plays with a center who can keep up.

    That likely leaves Raymond, Bouma, Colborne, and Ferland to duke it out for the remaining spot in the middle six and the fourth line consolation prize. If Ferland picks up where he left off last season, he will be playing. Bouma is probably going to have to stink for an extended period of time to fall out of Hartley’s good graces. Colborne may switch to the other wing or play fourth line centre if Stajan is traded or injured. Injuries or swapping to RW may be Raymond’s only chances to play.

    Bottom line, if Raymond doesn’t impress at camp, he could realistically start the season in the press box with Bollig.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    I’ve been saying all summer that I think Raymond will be given a chance to play with Bennett and Frolik. Not saying it is what I would do or even like; just a hunch as I think because he is an offensive guy and a vet I think Hartley will try it. If he doesn’t play on this line he becomes the 13th forward and trade bait.

  • RedMan

    there is no doubt that Raymond will have to EARN his spot on the team, but I for one have not written him off just yet. Assuming he is healthy and feeling 100%, he has done it before and has the tools to do it again. Last year MAY have been an indication of decline/regression or whatever you want to call it, but it may have been a one-off bad year due to starting behind the 8-ball and never getting it all together before being passed over in the rotation. He did start the year injured, right?

    this year he has something to prove, and let’s just say for a second he comes out at training camp and shows he is ready and able – he could POSSIBLY end up being a very solid 2nd line LW, putting up 40-60 pts and playing next to Bennett and Frolik. If this is the case, it’s win-win, except for Ferkland and Bouma, both of whom are hoping for the chance to become the 2LW.

    It seemed though that Raymond lost the coaches confidence – and I doubt he will have lots of chances to earn it back. get it done early Raymond!

  • Parallex

    The way I see it Raymond should basically be competing with Colborne.

    The lines as I see them (optimally)…

    Gaudreau-Monahan-Frolik

    X-Bennett-Hudler

    Bouma-Backlund-Jones

    Ferland-Stajan-Shore

    PP#1: Gaudreau-Monahan-Hudler,
    PP#2: X-Bennett-Jones

    PK#1: Backlund-Frolik,
    PK#2: Bouma-Stajan

    With Byron, Bollig, and Jooris competing for #13 & #14. The “X” on the Bennett/Hudler line is where Raymond or Colborne will start out the year. Off-hand I have no real preference between Colborne or Raymond, I’d prefer to move Raymond’s contract more, but in the event that’s not possible I’m equally okey with moving Colborne.

  • Jeremy

    ALWAYS EARNED NEVER GIVEN

    Gaudreau/Monahan/Hudler

    Bouma /Backlund/Frolik

    Ferland/Bennett/Jones

    Colborne/Stajan/Jooris

    Byron/Shore/Raymond

    Gio/Brodie

    Russell/Hamilton

    Smid/Wideman

    Englannd/Wotherspoon

    Hiller/Rammo

    • Jeremy

      Raymond is your 15th forward….even if he is healthy he will not be able to earn a spot…he is a perimeter soft player…if we can’t trade him it is down to Stockton never to be seen again! (call-ups in case of injuries will go to up and coming deserving players)

  • RedMan

    Bennet WILL be the second line Center and WILL be in contention or at least the conversation for the Calder

    Expect him to blow it up this year. This kid is special and will he elite sooner than later.

  • Greg

    I haven’t written off Raymond yet and think he’s still got it in him to put up ~20 goals and be a useful part of this team.

    But if he doesn’t impress at camp and show he belongs in the top 9 from day 1, I don’t get who everyone figures we’ll pawn him off to as “trade bait”. If he’s a healthy scratch again for us, he’s a buy out at best, and a salary dump costing us assets more likely than bringing anything back.