Photo courtesy of hockeymagasinet.com
Welcome back to Shift Work! The series where I take a look at a draft-eligible player and breakdown a game tape. I’ll be bringing you some comprehensive breakdowns of a player’s game as we go over an entire game of tape from a player. We will be focusing in on that player’s shifts and getting a peek at what the average game of that player looks like. We won’t cover every shift, but we will go over most of the shifts that the player played an active role in. We will be highlighting a lot of things that scouts and evaluators look for when they are watching a player’s game.
I couldn’t do this nearly as easy if it weren’t for collaboration with Prospect Shifts. The subscription-based website ($5/$10 options available) that takes a draft-eligible player and produces a video with only that player’s shifts. It cuts out the rest of the game, the commercials and intermissions making it much less time consuming to get a quick view on a player for scouts, writers and analysts alike.
This week we are taking a look at Lucas Raymond. He’s been a consensus top-five prospect for the majority of the year but has suffered from playing time issues with Frölunda HC in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). After this game against Linköping HC, which we are analyzing today, Raymond had just five points in 15 games at the SHL level. He is averaging around 10:15 TOI which isn’t conducive to his development but the level of competition both in the league and on his team should be beneficial if he can show that he deserves more ice-time. If you want to dive into a bit of an analysis of his playing situation, check this piece out from last week where we took a look at how we should work around Raymond’s limited opportunity.
Raymond is a shifty player who relies on elite skating and speed to make a difference. His offensive IQ is among the top-end players in this draft class and his puck skills allow him to take advantage of it. He is traditionally looked at as a playmaker but he has a sneaky wrist shot and great hands in tight. He understands the game and makes his teammates better on a regular basis. Without further ado, let’s dive into Raymond’s game against Linköping HC from November 23, 2019, so that we can find out exactly what makes him a special player.
Lucas Raymond’s (#18 in white) first shift of the game starts in the offensive zone but after a scramble and lost face-off, Raymond does a good job of applying initial backpressure, tapping his opponent with his stick as he begins to exit the zone. This backpressure forces the player up the ice and doesn’t allow for hesitation. It’s a small matter of business but it’s a good habit to have. Once the puck is in his defensive zone, Raymond stays up in the zone as the high man. He is able to find a loose puck and weakly flips it out of the zone. Preferably you’d like to see him get the puck out a little more authoritatively but this does the trick and it leads to a scoring chance. Raymond is behind on the play as he curled back into his own end of the ice after the initial flip out wasn’t very strong. This allowed him to stay defensively responsible if the flip-out did lead to a turnover.
On his next shift, Raymond steps onto the ice and into a battle for the puck along the boards. He can reach in, grab the puck and begin up-ice. The young Swede shows off huis excellent hands and elusiveness as he weaves by two defensive players before being met at the blueline. His dump-in attempt is blocked and the puck starts the other way but thankfully results in nothing. Raymond’s skating and dynamic hands were on display during this shift but the turnover wasn’t a great look.
Raymond’s next shift is a display of his defensive abilities. He does a good job of closing space on the puck carriers in the defensive end of the ice, helping force the puck into the neutral zone. He continues to apply pressure, forcing the puck to be moved across the ice. While you would like to see his stick on the ice and more active, the pressure is good and he stays between the puck and his goalie. As the puck heads back into the defensive zone, Raymond cuts the attacker off as he tries to cut to the middle of the ice. Raymond turns the puck over and has the chance to spring his teammate on a breakaway but the puck is knocked free by a backchecking player.
The best offensive chance in the first period for Raymond comes in the sequence above. As the puck is worked around the ice, Raymond opens up for a one-time shot. When the puck is sent to Raymond he delays the shot with a stutter, before releasing it. This small pause could throw the goalie off or allow for his to slide just a little too far in his crease, opening up the net for Raymond. Raymond can be seen moving through space in the zone to find an open spot that draws defenders to him, opening up just enough of a lane for his teammates to attack the net. Constant movement like that is what can throw a defense off balance and cause them to allow open lanes.
As the first man into the offensive zone, Raymond is the primary forechecker and tries to get tight to the boards, slowing down the goalies’ clearing attempt and then getting right to the front of the net while the defenders walk the blueline with the puck. Raymond does a good job of not being tied down in front and flowing in and out of traffic. He does a good job of hunting the loose pucks down in the corners and along the boards, quickly moving it to his linemates.
The first shift of the second period was a low/no-event shift so we start with his second shift of the frame. Above you see Raymond starts with the puck in his defensive zone before giving it away after being closed off into the boards. Luckily his defenseman was there for support, allowing for Raymond to circle back and help recover the puck. Once up ice, Raymond finds a soft spot in the attacking end but takes a shot from virtually the blue line which is stopped fairly easily. You’d like to see him claim a bit more ice there, getting deeper into the slot before firing his shot off.
His following shift was a mixed bag as he was able to start off on a good note by continuing the cycle, moving the puck to the point and then following it there. This creates movement and a flow through the offensive zone that can draw defenders out of position and opens passing and shooting lanes. Where it all goes awry on this shift is on a blunder at the blueline where Raymond attempts to corral a pass with his backhand before catching an edge and giving the puck up. Thankfully for Raymond, the penalty killers were exhausted and the one chance generated wasn’t particularly dangerous.
Raymond’s star begins to truly shine on his next shift. As Raymond is forechecking at the opposing blueline right after the faceoff, the puck is fed back to a defender but it winds up on Samuel Fagemo (LA Kings 2019 draft choice) who spots Raymond behind him. Once receiving the pass, Raymond does a great job of pulling the puck towards him, evading any defensive attempt before firing the puck home. Raymond’s sneaky good wrist shot isn’t valued enough by many in the prospect evaluation community as he’s billed as a playmaker primarily but it’s evident that his shot is pro-level.
I’ve split his next shift into two clips. We start with Raymond attempting to weakly get the puck out of his zone, attempting to just chop at the puck along the boards. This is the kind of play that concerns scouts as he had some time and space to get the puck out efficiently and effectively but opted for a half-hearted chop that resulted in a turnover that thankfully doesn’t result in much for the opposition. Encountered with almost the same situation later in the shift, Raymond uses his skating and speed to exit the zone much more effectively as you can see below.
Below we see Raymond starting his shift as the puck is already pinned deep in the defensive zone. He positions himself in front of the net and monitors the situation from afar. With multiple defenders behind the net, Raymond attempting to engage would have exposed the slot. He reads the play and then breaks up ice at just the right time, pausing at one point to ensure that the puck is going to be safely transported up the ice and out of danger. Unfortunately, the play goes offside and Raymond doesn’t get a chance on an odd-man break.
Raymond had two more shifts in the period but both were short and both were either low or no-event hockey.
The third period starts much the way the second ended, with a couple of short and low/no-event shifts. It’s not that Raymond was ineffective in these shifts, it’s just that nothing happened or they were a five-second shift with a quick stoppage by a goalie or offside before his line changes off.
In his first significant shift of the third period (Above), Raymond’s line is hemmed into their zone. Raymond is in a good position as the high forward and does a good job of crashing down onto the forward trying to cut to the middle. Raymond does a good job of reading the play and staying between the puck carrier and his man on the blueline. Overall, Raymond’s defensive zone coverage is average at worst and slightly above at best. He has a high-end offensive IQ so he uses that to read the play on the defensive side, despite not being entirely sure of himself at times defensively.
The clip above shows a very smart play by Raymond that results in a goal for his team that he doesn’t pick up a point on. The plays begins as the puck is taken away in the neutral zone by the Frölunda forward group. The three forwards then spread out, with Raymond being the farside forward who drives to the backdoor of the net. His presence draws a defender and an opposing winger which opens up a teammate. As Fagemo (#11 in White) fades from the net to the open slot, Raymond takes two defenders across the goalies’ face which breaks the goaltender’s line of sight. This allows for the puck to be passed back across the grain to Fagemo in the slot who makes no mistake. Plays like this are important to line chemistry and its just another example of how Raymond can affect a game with his constant movement through the offensive zone.
Raymond is rewarded on his next shift (above) with a bit of a greasy goal. He applies solid pressure as the Linköping forward attempts to exit the zone. This pressure leads to a weak flip out which Raymond easily corrals before immediately going on the attack. He cuts across the blue line to the middle of the ice and then makes a bee-line to the net. As he’s forced to the outside a bit, he protects the puck with some good stickhandling and then attempts to slide a cross-crease pass to Fagemo. The puck goes off the defender’s stick and into the back of the net for Raymond’d second of the night. Sometimes you’re good and sometimes you’re lucky. It’s best when you’re a bit of both.
Raymond’s final shift of the game was an exciting one for the young Swede. Clearly confident thanks to his two-goal performance, Raymond shows off his skating and edgework throughout this shift. He is able to get the puck to the front of the net early after circling behind the net and then helps to force a turnover which leads to him getting the puck again on his weakside half wall. With the puck on his stick, Raymond moves to the faceoff circle and attempts a toe-drag shot which is blocked. The shift in and of itself was a good one for Raymond to end the game on as he was able to show his speed and skill once last time.
Review and Analysis
Lucas Raymond is an extremely skilled player who has a pro-ready skill set but seems to lack the strength to utilize it at all times. Raymond may have a top-3 ceiling in relation to his draft class but he may also be less pro-ready in terms of strength than others. He is an elite-level skater and has hands that can keep up with his feet. Raymond reads and understands the play at a high-level and ensures that he is in constant movement in the offensive zone. Raymond takes unique lines around the ice, specifically in transition and while set up in the offensive zone. This constant movement draws defenders away from assignments and creates passing and shooting lanes that help create opportunities for himself and his teammates. With a bit of physical maturity and development, Raymond will be able to take advatage of the speed and agility of his game. There won’t be many defenders able to keep up to the elusive Swede when he is on his game. All of these aspects are what make Raymond a top-3 prospect.
As it currently stands, Raymond is getting a very minimal opportunity with Frölunda in the SHL. Despite this, Raymond has shown flashes of brilliance during his brief SHL stint to this point. While he will likely spend most of the season with Frölunda, he may see time in the SuperElit (Top Swedish U20 league). Raymond is in tough when it comes to earning ice-time with the big club as he will have to pass several skilled veterans and young players like the aforementioned Samuel Fagemo. The best thing for Raymond to do at this point is to continue playing well in a limited sample and then go and dominate for Team Sweden at the World Junior Championship at the end of December. Hope to carry the momentum over into his SHL season and slowly work his way into a more prominent role with Frölunda.
Thank you for joining me for another edition of Shift Work! I’ll be back for another edition in a couple of weeks. Until then, you’ll find me Rambling here on Dobber Prospects every Wednesday and you can follow me on Twitter at @theTonyFerrari! Which prospects have stood out to you recently? If there’s anyone you want an opinion on or think has been standing out lately, comment below or send me a message on Twitter. Be sure to check out previous installments of the Shift Work series below and give me your feedback on those as well!
Previous Editions of the “Shift Work” series:
Tim Stützle Cole Perfetti
Alexander Nikishin Quinton Byfield