Mason Raymond didn’t have a career year in 2013-14, but it was still one of the best performances he’d had in the NHL. Scoring 45 points on a cheap one-year deal for the Toronto Maple Leafs, he entered unrestricted free agency, and was rewarded with a three-year, $3.15 million AAV contract: his biggest to date.
And at this rate, probably the most he’s ever going to get. In 2014-15, he scored 23 points over 57 games. In 2015-16, he had what one could very generously call an awful, awful year.
Raymond started his season on the waiver wire, and then, when he wasn’t sent down, as a healthy scratch. It was a position he found himself in often throughout the first half of the season. He scored a goal in his second game, but most of the time, he was invisible.
Raymond was only dressed for 29 of the first 48 games of the season. He scored a grand total of four goals and one assist, and averaged just 12:20 in ice time: the least he ever had his entire career.
He was occasionally present on the powerplay, spending a grand total of 39:01 minutes with the man advantage – or, to put it another way, 10:41 more than Michael Frolik got. He had zero powerplay points.
Raymond’s final game of the season game on Jan. 27: a 2-1 loss to the Nashville Predators in which he played 11:42, had 47 more seconds of powerplay time than Frolik, and had a single shot on net. The All-Star Break followed, and after that, Raymond was once again placed on waivers. On Feb. 3, he cleared, and was sent down to the AHL.
Raymond spent the remainder of the season playing for the Stockton Heat. He had six goals and 15 points through 15 games.
Impact on team
Top left has players in most difficult circumstances: more defensive zone starts and tougher competition. Bottom right has players in easiest circumstances: a lot of offensive zone starts and weak competition. The bigger a player’s circle, the more he plays. The bluer, the greater his possession relative to his teammates; the redder, the worse. Click on image for full-sized chart from Corsica.
Raymond is the one lone red circle amidst of sea of blue forwards. He was reasonably sheltered: not quite as much as Sam Bennett or Sean Monahan, but not far behind them, and well ahead of Mikael Backlund.
Raymond was put in position to succeed and he didn’t, as his 46.57% 5v5 CF – 15th among all Flames who played at least 20 games – indicates. Nine of those 15 players had worse zone starts than him, including Micheal Ferland and Joe Colborne, who were two of the Flames who saw some of the worst defensive zone starts – and yet came away as positive possession players relative to the rest of the team.
Because Raymond didn’t spend too much time in the NHL this past season, his impacts on teammates are rather limited. In their brief times together, Raymond appeared to have a positive affect on Jones, Engelland, Giordano, and Brodie; however, Giordano and Brodie brought him up much more than he did for them.
Raymond appeared to be incompatible with Wideman, and especially Russell and Granlund. He brought Frolik down, and didn’t experience much difference when playing with Hamilton, though they were both a bit worse for the wear.
The real hero of this WOWY chart is Backlund, who by far had the biggest positive impact on Raymond’s game. On the flip side, Raymond didn’t even really have a negative affect on Backlund at all.
What comes next?
Raymond may not have already played his last game as a Calgary Flame, but it’s really difficult to imagine him suiting up for this team again.
The Flames tried to dismiss him at the start of the year, but there were no takers. Halfway through the season, they gave up and demoted him anyway, and his absence in the lineup wasn’t felt. He was a body who left to make way for younger bodies with more potential, and that was that.
So what really is next for Raymond? He still has one more season left on his contract, and carries a sizeable cap hit. Assuming he’s done as a Flame, there are a few options:
- He’s bought out. A buyout would have him on the Flames’ cap for $1.05 million next season, saving them $2.1 million; however, he’d also cost $1.05 million in 2017-18 as well.
- He’s buried. Burying Raymond in the AHL throughout the year means he’ll only take up $2.2 million of the Flames’ cap space in 2016-17. After that, his contract is over, and he’ll be gone.
- He’s traded. If a team is willing to take on the player and the cap hit – or even a fraction of his cap hit, should salary be retained – then the Flames will probably find that team and make that move. It could cost them an asset, however.
I’m not sure what teams would be willing to take on Raymond’s contract. Maybe someone at the cap floor who could use a veteran forward is willing to make the move, but there are likely better ways to reach the floor than trading for help. I think it’s more likely Raymond simply spends the year in Stockton, and that’ll be it for his career as a Flame.