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.Tags: Leafs, Mason Raymond