What Will Calgary Flames Do With Mason Raymond?


The Calgary Flames made a minor splash in free agency in last season when they signed Mason Raymond, Deryk Engelland and Jonas Hiller to new contracts. Though Hiller was solid, and better than expected as the Flames starting goaltender, the other two signings struggled in their first season with the Flames.

Raymond was coming off a strong season with the Toronto Maple Leafs when the Flames signed him to a three year contract with an annual cap hit of $3.15 million. It seemed like good value for a player that had just scored 19 goals and 45 points while playing mostly as a third line winger with the Leafs the previous season.

Raymond was supposed to come in and provide some scoring depth on this team, with the hope he would reach the 20 goal plateau as a second line left winger. He didn’t come close to reaching the totals he put up in his one season in Toronto.

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Raymond was given plenty of offensive opportunities with the Flames this season, but ended the season with just 12 goals, 11 assists and 23 points in 57 games. By the end of the year he was battling the likes of Brandon Bollig for ice time – and losing.

It’s clear that the Flames were expecting more out of Raymond this season in year one of his three year contract, and they have options if they want a mulligan on the deal. They could dangle him as tree bait, though they may have to retain some of his salary in a trade.

Apr 19, 2015; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames left wing Mason Raymond (21) skates with the puck against the Vancouver Canucks during the third period in game three of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The new CBA allows teams to retain up to 50% of a player’s contract in a trade, so that the team acquiring him wouldn’t have to absorb the full $3.15 million. Theoretically, the Flames could keep half of Raymond’s contract and move him as a player with a $1.575 million cap hit. Though he had a disappointing first campaign in Calgary, he’s just 29 years old and the Flames could find a taker for him if they retained half of his contract.

Of course, if the Flames do that, they won’t be getting much more than a mid to late round draft pick in return, and would lose over $1.5 million in cap space for each of the next two seasons.

Another way to make the cap hit disappear would be to buy out the contract of Raymond. This would cost the team a cap hit of $1.05 million for each of the next four seasons. The buyout window is open around the NHL right now until June 30th, and if the Flames exercise that option they will save $2.1 million on the cap for each of the next two years, but will then be on the hook for an extra $1.05 million the following two years.

If the Flames aren’t excited about paying Raymond to play elsewhere, and they aren’t likely to find a team willing to take on his full contract, they could bring Raymond back next season and hope he bounces back. There is actually plenty of reason to believe Raymond can be a solid producer in a specific role next year.

Feb 18, 2015; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames left wing Mason Raymond (21) controls the puck against the Minnesota Wild during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Minnesota Wild won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at his stats a little in depth, Raymond actually scored all but one of his points at even strength. He surprisingly had the third highest points per 60 minutes of 5 on 5 ice time for the Flames last season, suggesting he was one of their best offensive players at even strength.

Where Raymond really struggled was on the power play. He played a total of 117 minutes with the man advantage, but scored just one point – an assist – while the Flames were up a man. Raymond played a lot of minutes on the Flames second power play unit, and although the top line featuring Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Jiri Hudler, Mark Giordano and Dennis Wideman were great on the PP, the second unit was awful all year.

In fact, the entire Flames forwards aside from the big line, combined to score just 11 power play goals all season. Raymond is partly to blame for that, but it is more the team’s lack of offensive depth that led to Raymond’s awful showing on the power play this year.

Jan 27, 2015; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames left wing Mason Raymond (21) collides with Buffalo Sabres center Zemgus Girgensons (28) during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Flames won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

The Flames can look at these numbers and do two things. They can look at Raymond’s overall numbers and say he is not worth his contract and try to find a way to get rid of him. Or, they can look a little more in depth and decide he can still be a great contributor from a second or third line at even strength, though he may not warrant as much power play time as he received last season.

Just because he struggled with the man advantage last season, doesn’t mean Raymond is a bad player. In fact, seeing he ranked third in even strength ice time per minute on the Flames shows me he could definitely bounce back next season if the team doesn’t shuttle him down the lineup and place him on the fourth line and in the press box.

The Flames have made no secret about the fact that they are looking to get bigger, tougher and more difficult to play against. Raymond is a bit of a perimeter player who could be described as soft, so he doesn’t really fit the mould of what the team is looking to acquire this summer.

Due to this, and the fact he was demoted towards the end of last season and didn’t play at all in the top six during the postseason, I fear that the team is plotting to rid themselves of Raymond’s contract. If it were up to me, I would show some patience with Raymond and even start him on the second line with Sam Bennett and Mikael Backlund next season to see if he can replicate his success at even strength next season.

It would be a mistake, but don’t be surprised if Raymond has already played his last game with the Calgary Flames.

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