Mason Raymond: Hold On or Sell High?

Mason Raymond: Hold On or Sell High?

Photo: Getty Images via NHL.com

Gold is Canada’s and the players are on flights back home.  The NHL season starts up again on Tuesday with just nine days remaining until the March 5 NHL Trade Deadline.  As the Toronto Maple Leafs push towards its second consecutive playoff berth, could Mason Raymond’s 16 goals and 19 assists in 60 games this season make him one of the hottest buys on deadline day?

Signed to a cheap $1-Million, one-year deal during training camp, Raymond is on an expiring deal and could be the Leafs best trade chip come deadline day.  With so many teams tight under the salary cap, Raymond is a rare commodity and could bring in a decent haul from the right bidder (recall that Pittsburgh did trade two second round picks for Douglas Murray, a toxic asset).

It’s not like there wouldn’t be suitors, either.  All three of California’s teams have cap space, high round picks and could use a depth scoring option for a long playoff run.  Winnipeg, Phoenix and Vancouver are all trying to chase down the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

In pursuit of building a playoff contender, the Leafs have shed the next three years’ worth of second round draft picks, and don’t possess an intimidating prospect pool.  The ability for the Leafs to both make the playoffs and stock the cupboard is both a unique and realizable opportunity.  But does the removal of Raymond from the lineup sink the team’s postseason chances?  Or do the Leafs already have the depth to replace him in the system?

So what’s it going to be?

By The Numbers

Per www.extraskater.com, here are some of Raymond’s more salient usage and advanced statistics.

EV TOI/G (Tm %)PP TOI/G (Tm %)PK TOI/G (Tm %)Corsi RelOzone St %PDO
14:17 (28.5%)1:58 (37.4%)1:19 (23.9%)0.90.4511020

What we can see is that Raymond features heavily in the Leafs lineup in all situations, is generally a bit better at driving play while in somewhat sheltered minutes, and has performed well above average in on-ice shooting and save percentage.

Keep Him

As evidenced above, Raymond plays a bunch of minutes in all situations for the Maple Leafs and handles them well – or at least better than most of his forward peers.  It’s hard to find a player at any price tag that can provide top six offense while taking PK and defensive assignments.  His usage is similar to, though obviously lesser than, James van Riemsdyk’s in this capacity. He features in nearly a third of the gameplay by time on ice alone.

On a team that gets handily outshot, Raymond is among the better forwards at directing the puck towards the opposition’s net.  I’m not entirely sure how that’s possible given his propensity to stop up and curl back three steps inside the blueline, but the numbers bear it out.

His 16 goals and 35 points represent the fourth highest totals on the team; his 6 power play goals are third on the team.  He’s had a career resurgence in Toronto, and has already hit his second highest single-season goal total with 22 games to go.  He’s playing better than he has in years, and the Leafs don’t have a single option to replace him internally with a 20-goal pedigree.  Most teams don’t trade one of their top point-getters just ahead of a stretch drive.

Moreover, he’s been healthy this year, which hasn’t been the case for many Leaf forwards.  With van Riemsdyk taking a puck to the throat in Saturday’s Bronze medal game, there’s the ever present concern of losing a top six forward to a long term injury.  The Leafs offense has looked far less dominant than last season, so keeping the cheap depth could be a necessity in case of ailments.

It’s also worth mentioning that Raymond’s 55 career playoff games is the second most on the Leafs after Dave Bolland (67 GP).  For all of the talk of adding a veteran presence, this team is still very young in terms of playoff experience and Raymond’s played for a Stanley Cup before.  The Leafs padded the lineup last offseason with Bolland, Jonathan Bernier and David Clarkson specifically to insulate the team with guys who have gone deep in the post season.  Raymond is that type of guy too.

Deal Him

He might feature in the PK a fair amount, but the Leafs also happen to sport one of the league’s worst marks (78%, 28th place) in that regard.  The team should be bolstered by Bolland’s return, and between Bolland, van Riemsdyk, Bozak, Kulemin and McClement there could be a precipitous drop off in his PKTOI.  On the defensive side of the puck and especially on the PK, D’Amigo could be useful as the 6th PKing option with a healthy squad.

In terms of the PP, one of the team’s greatest strengths (22.4%, 2nd place), he’s still getting the third most minutes among left wingers, and the Leafs have better puck distributing options available.  The club might try to reset (factory restore?) David Clarkson’s season and give him more man advantage opportunities to stimulate his offense.

The Leafs already struggle with the salary cap, and shedding any weight could be beneficial.  Especially if the Leafs are unwilling to demote or depart with Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren, getting any cap space would be a boon.

This is mostly a future focused argument, but the Leafs already have 2 centers and 4 wingers signed to deals through next season.  While not perfect, Kessel, van Riemsdyk, Bozak, Lupul, Kadri and Clarkson are more definitively in the long term plans of the Maple Leafs than Raymond is.  He’ll want a raise this offseason, but his asking price could be well above what the Leafs need from a top 9 forward.  With the core set in the present, it would behoove the Leafs to look at improving their prospect pipeline.

Another consideration should be for the Leafs young talent that’s had trouble matriculating into the NHL ranks due to a log jam in the bottom six forwards.  Peter Holland, Jerry D’Amigo and Carter Ashton are all still young in their NHL career but deserve a longer look and more ice time with the big club.  The Leafs don’t have a complete picture of what they’ve got in the three young ‘tweeners, but creating a roster spot could help give all three more opportunities.  They are far more likely to be in Leafs uniforms next season, shouldn’t they get more experience now?

Holland especially displays a skillset that could replace or at least mitigate the loss of Raymond’s offense.  Just 22, Holland’s possession numbers look worse than Raymond’s this season, but hasn’t received consistent minutes in offensive situations.  Also worth noting that the Leafs gave up a decent defensive prospect and a second round pick to acquire Holland, so finding a way to both recoup the pick and provide Holland a roster spot makes good sense for the franchise.

Parting Thoughts

Clearly there are many variables in play, and any substantial injury to a top six winger will probably cease any trade discussion.   For Dave Nonis and his staff, it’ll come down to just how much they value Mason Raymond’s contributions this season and into the spring.  Is Raymond essential for the Leafs to not just make the playoffs, but make the second round? If so, keep him and plan for a long run.  If not, it’s in the club’s best interest both short and long term to find him a new home.

696 comments
wendelsway1
wendelsway1

So if we're only keeping one of Orr or FML.....who's it gonna be?......I keep Orr

Burtonboy
Burtonboy

Clarkson stayed in TO during the break working out according to Carlyle 

Snots
Snots

It takes about 42% of my computers memory just to run this site and then it barely crawls....


Kind of ridiculous I would say

MaxwellHowe
MaxwellHowe

Anyone want to take a stab at Bolland's eventual AAV?  Reportedly he wants $4.5 - $5 million.  I think the Leafs give him $4.5 million for 5 years.  I hope they watch him skate in some games and scrutinize those medical reports first.

PEIleafnation
PEIleafnation

I think 1 thing that could help the leafs as well...is the sched the rest of the way...sure teams might have games in hand...but they got to squeeze them in...for example habs got 3 games in 5 days this week...tough sledding..although PK will be fresh ;)

vinoa
vinoa

@Burtonboy  Does this mean that he's waiving Orr and FML? Or is he just trolling us?

Cameron19
Cameron19

@Burtonboy  Ha, this guy wants to be good so bad. I think he should have taken a vacation - maybe met up with some of the boys and picked up a few tabs. 

vinoa
vinoa

@ingy56  Should be on the Women's network or Treehouse

Cameron19
Cameron19

@MaxwellHowe  I'm hoping he'll settle at 4M. If he's asking for 4.5, that seems possible. No one ever gets what they want. Remember, Bozak supposedly wanted 5.5M

vinoa
vinoa

@MaxwellHowe  I hope they give 1 or 2 year contract at his current value before looking at 5 years.

rickpearce76
rickpearce76

@dlb eh @wendelsway1  If we HAD to keep 1 I'd take McC simply because he gets paid less. Both of them are a waste of a roster space and cap space. I'd prefer to dump them both.

MaxwellHowe
MaxwellHowe

@Cameron19 @MaxwellHowe With the exception of Clarkson, Nonis has been very successful   signing players for less than expected.  i wonder if he works to get Bolland signed without a NTC 

PEIleafnation
PEIleafnation

@Cameron19 @PEIleafnation leafs are 1 game under 500 on the road...not the end of the world..and yah there are some tough ones...but id rather play 2-3 tough road ones then some of these scheds these got left...the wear down on teams that had serveral guys in Olympics will be an issue

vinoa
vinoa

@Burtonboy @vinoa  He seems like a pretty decent locker room presence and he gets along with the rest of the guys. Can't Barb work her magic lol

vinoa
vinoa

@Cameron19 @vinoa @MaxwellHowe  Yeah I've noticed that it usually costs us a bit more. That's why I was a fan of Burke's short contracts like the Connolly one. The Clarkson signing has me a bit weary of Nonis but I guess someone was going to overpay for him either way.

Cameron19
Cameron19

@vinoa @Cameron19 @MaxwellHowe  I don't think that's a Nonis/Burke issue though. Toronto has overpaid for UFAs as long as I've been a fan. That is just the burden of managing the biggest franchise in the sport, with the most damaging media coverage, and among the highest taxes to boot. It's a potential career killer to play here, and you have to pay to mitigate that. 

MaxwellHowe
MaxwellHowe

@Cameron19 @Burtonboy @MaxwellHowe Truth is, what player would want a full NTC? Should always consider the possbility that something doesn't work out, you sleep with a coach's wife, whatever. 

vinoa
vinoa

@Cameron19 @MaxwellHowe  Yeah Nonis hasn't shown the same brilliance with UFAs. I think trading is his strength just like Burke...they make some very prudent deals.

MaxwellHowe
MaxwellHowe

@Cameron19 @MaxwellHowe One thing that works in his favor is that the cap is not really going up by a lot this year.  Not sure Bolland would have a great deal of success finding suitors on the free market if he wants $5 million.

Cameron19
Cameron19

@Burtonboy @Cameron19 @MaxwellHowe  I dunno. Never been a big Bolland fan, although there's obviously no denying we need him right now. I think he's too injury prone to go long-term with, but whatever. 

vinoa
vinoa

@Burtonboy @vinoa @MaxwellHowe  He's coming off a pretty significant injury...can he dictate what he wants or will he take the 1 year just to show where he is physically?

Cameron19
Cameron19

@PEIleafnation @Cameron19  We always give those teams good games. And wer'e one of the few teams in the East that holds their own against the West.