Mason Raymond continues freefall into fall, heads to Leafs camp on tryout

The people, they called Mason Raymond “London Bridge” because, like the storied road across the River Thames, the speedy winger has a history of falling down. (Okay, no they didn’t. But they should have.)

And yet, even with a reputation for mixing spills with his thrills, I don’t think anybody expected Raymond to fall quite this far this offseason. On Sunday night, over two months after hitting unrestricted free agency, Raymond finally signed a contract. It’s a tryout. With the Toronto Maple Leafs.

On the one hand, it’s a head-scratcher. For one thing, the Leafs don’t have a lot of capspace, especially as they try to re-sign Nazem Kadri and Cody Franson. For Raymond to join the fray, he’s likely looking at a deal of less than a million.

Furthermore, for a guy whose contributions tend to show themselves more in the advanced analytics (albeit not this last season), going to a team that basically declared war on analytics when they bought out Mikhail Grabovski and gave Tyler Bozak all the money doesn’t make a lot of sense.

But on the other hand, you can see why Raymond and agent J.P. Barry might think this is a wise play. First of all, I’ve heard the gravity in the East is lighter, so there’s that. Plus, with Matt Frattin gone to Los Angeles, there’s an opening on the Leafs’ third line — on what is likely to be Dave Bolland’s wing, as it happens — for a speedy checking forward.

Raymond is also heading to a team helmed by the guy that drafted him in Dave Nonis. That helps, as he’s starting from a place of familiarity.

“I know Mason very well,” Nonis told the Canadian Press. “He’s another option. He’s an NHL forward, he’s scored 25 goals in this league. He’s only 27 years old. He’s got great foot speed, which is something that will give Randy [Carlyle] some more options.”

Really, making the team would make Nonis look like a clever cat, both for drafting Raymond in 2005 and for getting him to training camp on a piddly tryout, so Raymond has Nonis’s vanity in his corner as well.

Finally, it’s looking more and more like Nazem Kadri will be sitting out this training camp awaiting a contract, so the door is even wider for Raymond to stand out. That might help him to catch the eye of another team if the Leafs decide not to sign him.

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8 comments

  1. PB
    September 9, 2013

    Bizarre and madness. I cannot imagine after two months of waiting that Raymond’s contract demands were that high and regardless of all the hate for him (some frustration surely but given his wheels, his PK abilities, and his general ability to push the play a lot of it’s undeserved) I am shocked that no team found him worth a contract. 27, able to shuttle between 2nd and 3rd line, he doesn’t fit here (and I cannot see him fitting the Leafs). But how could he not find a home in another team? It’s truly strange this one. There’s been noise in multiple places about getting him (Boston for one) but this idiotic cap contraction leaves players like him — decent but not spectacular NHLers (I don’t think he’s a fringe player) on the outside.

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  2. Mr. Reality
    September 9, 2013

    The problem with Raymond is he’s a pansy. He has zero physical presence and get’s knocked off the puck consistently.

    That’s the reason nobody wants him. He has done nothing to deal with those two issues and his inability to adapt to an evolving game will end in being washed up.

    Mr. R.

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    • 5minutesinthebox
      September 10, 2013

      Are you really that ignorant? There are plenty of very good players who are currently without contracts, and Raymond is far from the worst of them.
      You realize that Raymond would have been a 40 pt player last year (18g 21a over 82g)? All while playing a majority of the time on the 3rd line, and 2nd unit pp.
      And your insinuation that he gets ‘knocked’ off the puck, or even has more giveaways than he team mates is completely unfounded.
      A player does not need to have a physical presence in order to be effective. Raymond has top NHL speed, and can use it to open up a defence, is a very good defender, and was one of the teams best forecheckers.
      The respewing of nonsense by Canuck fans is rediculous. Has Raymond been the same since the hit that nearly eneded his career. No. But I will tell you one thing, he is a far more effective player than one David Booth, who makes nearly twice as much.

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  3. Chinook
    September 9, 2013

    To think there were some that didn’t even want to trade him last spring. Turns out he wasn’t traded because the Canucks had enough hockey pucks to last out the playoffs. (I’m not picking on Mason, but those that overvalued him.)

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    • Chinook
      September 9, 2013

      “You are posting comments too quickly. Slow down.”
      I notice same problem continues on and on and on. Its a chorus actually.

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  4. akidd
    September 9, 2013

    prediction: raymond lights it up in t.o. and canuck fans will get some ribbing from leaf fans. in the lighter gravity and playing on a line with bolland, raymond is gonna do great, i think. raymond is a really good defensive player. he’s smart and efficient. try to recall how many times you’ve heard, “raymond missed his check and (opposing player) made him pay.” not many. we’ve seen him play at the highest level, not recently so much, but at one time. he may disappear offensively but rarely defensively.

    and bolland has played some top-top-notch hockey. he’s a rat of course but he can play. honed in the fires at the top of the western conference that could be 2/3′s of a pretty damn decent third line in that pond-hockey conference. as long as they don’t expect them to carry too much offence. and even there, it’s pretty much up to ray-ray if he feels like scoring 25 again.

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    • PB
      September 10, 2013

      Unlikely to happen — sounds like Kadri’s on the verge of signing. No room for Raymond unless the Leafs jettison Franson or someone else. I’d prefer a young d-man on the rise over a reclamation project, which Raymond’s going to be. I still think he deserves a shot but I don’t think the Leafs are the right spot for him. Hey, maybe Philly will sign him to a $3million contract like they just did with another player given PTO options — Cleary…

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  5. Nee
    September 9, 2013

    Does he have the unspoken label of “damaged goods” due to his previously broken back? I don’t understand why he has been adrift for so long.

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