Farewell Mason Raymond: winger signs one year-deal with Maple Leafs

It took a great deal longer than we had anticipated, but Mason Raymond finally has a new NHL contract. Just as we suspected, Raymond has aced his professional tryout with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and on Monday, the Leafs gave him his reward: a shiny new deal worth $1 million for one year.

Great deal for Toronto. I think even Canuck fans would take him back at that price.

But now it’s too late, and with that, we’d like to take a moment to say goodbye to one of the most divisive Vancouver Canucks of the modern era. Don’t worry, though — we’re not going to fall all over ourselves. That’s Raymond’s thing, not ours.

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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.

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Every Goal, 2012-13: Mason Raymond

Consider the following: Mason Raymond finished tied for fourth in team scoring for the Canucks, just one goal back of Henrik Sedin, two back of Daniel Sedin, and three back of team leader, Alex Burrows. In other words: it was a pretty decent season for him, comparatively speaking. Yet everybody seemed to hate him, and now, in late August, Raymond still finds himself unemployed.

Granted, some of it is Raymond’s own doing. From the sounds of it, he was fairly determined to go to Calgary, and when the Flames passed, some of the other interested parties had moved. In addition, he’s a bit of a drunk ghost, falling down and disappearing fairly regularly. Teams hate that. They prefer guys that are strong on their feet, as they say, and consistent. Raymond has a lot of good qualities but neither of those can be counted as one of them.

But he’s still a pretty good hockey player, as you’ll see in these clips. He’s got great speed, an effective wristshot, and he plays a 200-foot game. After watching him score 10 times, you might even be open to the idea of him returning to Vancouver at a reduced rate. I totally would.

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Spitballin’ on Dale Weise’s arbitration, David Booth’s wisdom, and Mason Raymond’s future

Spitballin’ (or Super Pass It To Bulis: All In, if you love adventurous acronymizing) is a feature that allows us to touch on a multitude of things really fast, because in the world of hockey, there are always lots of things to find and colour. Here are a few quick topics.

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Loss of Ballard, Raymond, means Canuck fans need a new default trade package

As expected, on Thursday, the Vancouver Canucks finalized the process of buying out defenceman Keith Ballard. Scheduled to make $4.2 million for each of the next two years, the Minnesota-born blueliner will instead be paid $5.6 million to go away.

I am also willing to be paid that much to not work in Vancouver. Let this be known to foes wherever you may be. Hate this blog and the nonsense written therein? You can shut the whole operation down for the paltry sum of $5.6 million. Same goes for you, Vancouver Sun. We’ve heard tale of buyouts. We’ll take it, provided it’s $5.6 million.

We’ll quit for real, too. We won’t pull a Ballard and sign with Minnesota, as the jettisoned defenceman did later the same day.

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Pouring some cold water on Mason Raymond’s comeback season

With both Ryan Kesler and David Booth on the injured reserve list to start this season, the Canucks were forced to rely on Mason Raymond to anchor their second line and provide secondary scoring. Considering his decline in offensive production over the past couple seasons, this seemed to be a cause for concern.

Raymond, however, stepped up in a big way and was one of the Canucks most consistent forwards early in the year. It appeared that the extended off-season created by the lockout significantly helped his recovery from a broken back in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals and that Raymond was back to his 25-goal form that earned him a two-year $5.1 million contract extension in 2010.

Over the course of the season, however, Raymond’s play has gradually begun to flatline and there are some significant causes for concern for the future. With Raymond approaching his first off-season as an unrestricted free agent, the Canucks need to seriously consider whether they will re-sign the speedy winger, with his playoff performance likely playing a large role in the decision.

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Examining the Canuck winners and losers of the 2013 trade deadline

It wasn’t a terrible NHL trade deadline for the Canucks. After all, they acquired Derek Roy, a skilled player that adds a very important element to their attack: a centre. They really haven’t had one of those all season.

Still, the 2013 trade deadline won’t be remembered in this city for what Mike Gillis did — it will be remembered for what he didn’t do. A big part of that is because he acquired Roy the day before the deadline, which is like giving a child a present on Christmas Eve. It’s exciting, but there had damn well better be something else under the tree on Christmas. But a bigger part is because Roberto Luongo wasn’t traded, leading to the the most indelible moment of the deadline, when Luongo told the world he had a sucky contract. That’ll stay with us, just like Luongo will.

All of this in mind, let’s take a look at the winners and losers of the deadline from a Vancouver perspective.

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Breakdowning Mason Raymond’s first period goal against the Nashville Predators

When the Canucks score 7 goals in a game, it’s tough to know which one to break down. We even had calls on Twitter to break down Henrik Sedin’s gorgeous penalty shot goal or Maxim Lapierre’s slick breakaway marker. As nice as those goals were, it’s more than a little difficult to break down a goal when it’s just one skater and a goalie. It would just be one screen shot with the breathtaking analysis of, “Well, you see, he did something the goalie didn’t expect him to do and the puck…well, it went in.”

It seemed obvious to me which one needed the full Breakdowning treatment: Mason Raymond’s seventh goal of the season, which came on a beautiful passing play that incorporated every single Canucks skater on the ice.

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Help us, Mason Raymond, you’re our only hope

Last season, Mason Raymond wasn’t even on the second line. Now he’s the only one left on it. The stone the builder’s rejected has become the cornerstone, in other words, and people are straight-up concerned. Nay, they’re worried. Perhaps even noivous.

With Ryan Kesler still recovering from all the surgeries, the second line to start the season was meant to be one of Jordan Schroeder or Andrew Ebbett between Raymond and David Booth. In many ways, Raymond was only on the second line by default, as Vigneault appeared to want Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen on the third line. Now, by default, he’ll be the one on that line with the most NHL experience.

He lost a lot of fans with his lacklustre performance over the last couple seasons, but now everybody loves Raymond (because there is no one else to love).

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The 10 best pictures of Canucks as kids

There is no better hockey-related Tumblr account in the entire world than NHL Players as Kids. Seeing pictures of big and tough hockey players as adorable, cherub-faced children is inherently hilarious. Making it even better is how many of them haven’t changed in the slightest and look almost exactly the same as they did when they were kids.

There are several Canucks represented on NHL Players as Kids and many of their pictures are awesome and need to be shared. So here I am, sharing them with you. That’s just how we roll here at PITB.

Without further ado, here are the 10 best pictures of current and former Canucks as kids:

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Spitballin’ on stolen ice time, charitable giving addict Dan Hamhuis, and snubbing Jan Bulis

Spitballin’ (or Super Pass It To Bulis: All In, if you love adventurous acronymizing) is a feature that allows us to touch on a multitude of things really fast, because in the world of hockey, there are always lots of things to find and colour. Here are a few quick topics.

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Who were Ryan Kesler’s best linemates last season?

Sometimes when I get curious enough about something to investigate it, digging up statistics and putting together charts, the answer turns out to be the obvious one. Fortunately, it can also turn up some other interesting information along the way.

Here’s the question I had: which wingers were most effective with Ryan Kesler last season? One of the big questions coming into this season is who should play on the second line with Kesler, once he returns too early? David Booth seems to have his spot all sewn up, but there are many competitors for the opposite wing, including Chris Higgins, Mason Raymond, Jannik Hansen, Zack Kassian, and Nicklas Jensen. Heck, if Shane Doan signs with the Canucks, you can add him and Alex Burrows to that list.

David Booth and Chris Higgins were Kesler’s most common linemates last season, but were they his most effective linemates? To get the answer, I did some WOWY (With Or Without You) analysis to see how Kesler performed with and without various linemates. In this case, the answer appears to be pretty definitively “yes.”

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Every Goal, 2011-12: Mason Raymond

When Mason Raymond started his (injury-delayed) season with 6 points in 7 games, Canucks fans were understandably excited. It seemed that after his back was broken during the Stanley Cup Final, Raymond spent months getting punched in the back by prisoners with dubious doctorates and doing copious amounts of push-ups in the Pit, before climbing out stronger than ever and making his way back to Gotham City to take down Bane.

Turns out, that only works in the movies. The lack of offseason training seemed to take its toll on Raymond’s core strength and conditioning, causing his play to slip and fall like a Mason Raymond. After 6 points in 7 games, he scored just 14 points in his remaining 48 games, finishing with a grand total of just 10 goals.

In 2010-11, Raymond struggled offensively, but had superb underlying numbers, showing how he pushed possession into the offensive zone whenever he was on the ice. Last season, that wasn’t the case. His underlying numbers were just as terrible as his offensive production. It’s important to note that his offensive production was quantitatively terrible, but not necessarily qualitatively terrible.

So let’s focus on the positive by watching all 10 of Mason Raymond’s goals from last season.

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What happened to the old Mason Raymond?

Mason Raymond has been a target for criticism for the vast majority of the season and it’s easy to understand why. The speedy winger has just 8 goals and 8 assists in 46 games and has been noticeably prone to losing his edge and falling to the ice. He’s survived a broken back, but it’s unknown if he’ll survive the displeasure of Vancouver hockey fans.
His recent promotion to the first line with the Sedins made sense on closer inspection, but that didn’t stop Canucks fans from freaking right out and calling for Vigneault’s head. Fortunately, the Canucks organization installed a statue of Roger Neilson in front of Rogers Arena and not a guillotine, or things could have gotten ugly.

I’ve been quick to defend Mason Raymond this season, pointing out that his deficiencies frequently mask his proficiencies. After all, Raymond was often criticized last season for his lack of production, but his underlying numbers were still strong, indicating that he was still a useful player whose efforts were under-appreciated. It was easy enough for me to assume that the same was the case this year, that Raymond’s lack of offensive production was making him an easy, and undeserved, target of criticism.

I was wrong.

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The top 50 Vancouver Canucks goals of 2011 (30-21)

Here we are at Day 3 of PITB’s list of our 50 favourite Canuck goals of 2011. Today features a heaping helping of beast mode Ryan Kesler, as well as a selection of the most curious pieces of Sedinery 2011 had to offer.

Have you ever seen a guy pass the puck through the legs of a goaltender, or away from the goalmouth with the goalie down and out? Have you ever seen a guy come to a complete stop directly in front of his defender? If so, you watched the Sedins in 2011. My friend, they don’t think like you and I. It’s pretty great. I suspect you’ll enjoy these 10 goals.

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Drance Numbers: Has Mason Raymond’s game changed since his injury?

About this there is no doubt: Mason Raymond has guts, and twice the testicular fortitude of Johnny Knoxville.

Even if you hold the schmaltz, it’s fair and accurate to describe his recovery and his performance following his return as inspiring. He’s filling in on nearly every forward line, dominating possession and generating a boatload of chances and offense.

But that’s all stuff that Raymond was doing during the last campaign as well, yet he was disappointing to the majority of Canucks fans. What’s different so far this year is that he’s scoring goals at a much higher rate than he did the season previous. So is he scoring goals because his game has “changed” since his return from injury? Now that is a more contentious issue.

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Pass it to Comics: Mason Raymond takes contact in practice

Pass it to Comics is a biweekly collaboration between PITB and cartoonist Chloe Ezra. It will run on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the season. Today, Mason Raymond is welcomed back by Kiss Huggins and friends.

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Canucks news comes fast and furious, and sometimes we find ourselves playing catchup. Thankfully, the Dreaded Two Goal Lead–often called “the worst lead in hockey”–is super easy to come back from. Everybody knows it’s a guaranteed death sentence for those that hold it. Well, much like an ice hockey team coming from two goals down, PITB will now effortlessly catch up.

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Whether or not Mason Raymond can get back to his level of play from two years ago will be one of 2011-12′s largest storylines. Once his back is rehabilitated, Raymond will be dropped straight into a contract year and, considering the glut of middle six wingers, he’ll be in tough to earn the juicy second line minutes he was getting in 2010-11. If he hopes to keep that coveted spot alongside Ryan Kesler, he’s likely going to have to score with a little more regularity than he did last season. But let’s not look forward. Let’s go back in time, to the 15 goals Mason Raymond scored in 2010-11.

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After another decisive road loss during a post season that has had its share of dizzying heights and now back-breaking lows (with all apologies to Mason Raymond), the members of good ship Canuck were all heard to declare they had once again turned the page and were only thinking about game 7.  At this time [...]

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In light of the Canucks’ disastrous trip to Boston, we expect some significant line-up tweaks from the occasionally esteemed Coach Vigneault. During the last Canucks’ meltdown (the first round near suicide swoon against Chicago), we threw out some ideas for roster changes (see our April 23rd posting where we recommended reuniting Ryan Kesler and Alex [...]

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