The Toronto Maple Leafs made more news on top of all the mayhem that has been surrounding them after Sunday’s bloodfest, by signing left winger Mason Raymond to a one year one million dollar contract. The signing came as no surprise after the great camp that Raymond has had.
Raymond came into camp after signing a professional tryout with the Leafs the day before the opening of training camp. The former Vancouver Canuck went the entire summer without being signed by anyone, but seems to have found a new home in Toronto.
The 28 year old came into camp determined to show the Leafs and the rest of the league that he can be a very important piece to the right team. For Toronto it seems like that could very well be the case. This off season the Leafs said farewell to forwards Clarke MacArthur, Mikhail Grabovski, and Matt Frattin, all very speedy forwards. However, Raymond has shown throughout camp that he may be the fastest of the bunch. Raymond helps to bring speed to a lineup that has certainly gotten slower this off season.
Besides his great speed, Raymond also provides great leadership and can bring a veteran presence to a very young Leaf squad. Though Raymond is only 28 years old, the Cochrane, Alberta native has been to the playoffs in each of his six seasons in the NHL with the Canucks and after coming just a game away from winning the cup in 2010 it is clear that Raymond knows what it takes to be a winner.
This pre-season Raymond has been one of the most productive players on the team tallying 2 goals and 2 assists in three games. Raymond’s best season was in 2009-2010 when he lit the lamp 25 times and given the chance, he looks destined to do it again.
Early indications suggest that Raymond will likely find himself playing on the third line alongside Dave Bolland and Nikolai Kulemin, a line that could prove to be very physical while also being very capable of chipping in offensively if needed. However, with the recent escapades that took place in Sunday night’s game against Buffalo and the impending 10 game suspension that will be dished out to David Clarkson, Raymond could even find himself playing on the second line with Nazem Kadri and Joffrey Lupul.
Earlier in the week Sportsnet’s Doug Maclean reported that the Maple Leafs and Raymond had already worked out a deal that would pay the winger $925,000 for the year as long as he made the team. That numbered turned out to be a bit larger and now with this signing things have become a little tighter on the Cody Franson side of things. The signing of Raymond now brings the Leafs cap hit up to $63.7 million.
General Manager Dave Nonis and company continue to try and find a way to sign defenseman Cody Franson. The Leafs might have to look at making space if they are still serious about trying to bring the defenseman back. One possible option might be trading away defenseman John-Michael Liles. Liles’ contract brings a cap hit of $4 million dollars, which would more space to sign Franson. One team that might be interested is the Carolina Hurricanes who learned last week that defenseman Joni Pitkanen will miss the entire 2013-2014 season with a leg injury.
Raymond came into camp determined to make an impression on the Leaf coaching staff and battle for a spot on the team and he has done just that. With just three exhibition games left before the season kicks off on October 1st expect the Leafs to trim down the roster to what it will likely look like come opening night. This could mean Raymond on the second line, a far cry for a player who came into camp on a tryout basis.
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