Siegel: Raymond lets play do the talking for Maple Leafs

Jonas Siegel
12/20/2013 11:54:36 PM
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TORONTO – Mason Raymond doesn't much like talking about himself.

"First of all, I'm not a guy that [is] going to sit here and blab about myself," Raymond said in conversation with the Leaf Report, asked if he had something to prove this season. "You go and you play hockey. That's the way it goes. There's not much more to say than that."

Fortunately for the Maple Leafs, his play on the ice has done all the talking.

Raymond has 11 goals and 25 points in 37 games this season and is on pace to either match or exceed career-highs in goals, assists, points and ice-time. The 28-year-old has been one of the few bright spots in Toronto this season.

Drafted and developed by the Canucks – he was a second round pick in 2005 – Raymond spent his first six NHL seasons in Vancouver. But he went unsigned by the organization this past summer and found himself without a job right up until the eve of training camp, a victim no doubt of the cap crunch in 2013 – which saw the cap's upper-limit fall to $64 million.

He landed with the Leafs on an unlikely pro tryout and was signed subsequently for a very modest $1 million on a one-year deal. The deal has proven a bargain thus far and his adjustment to Toronto – at least on the ice – has appeared seamless.

"Sometimes change is good," said Raymond, who played 374 regular season games with Vancouver. "For me here, [I'm] getting different opportunities, playing with some good players and playing minutes.

"I'd only known one thing – I'd only known Vancouver," he continued. "I went from one city to this city; different coach, different players, different systems, different everything, so there's things to adjust to and that's part of being a pro and adjusting to it and learning."

Raymond chalks up his exit from the Canucks to business, though he concedes that "you're out to prove that possibly they made a mistake in not signing you".

"I was a free agent and they chose not to pursue with me anymore and so be it," he said. "That's hockey and that's just the way it went."

His addition, a strike for speedy depth initially, has been of considerable importance for the Leafs, who have struggled to find their way this season. Be it because of injuries – mostly down the middle – or suspensions, the club has needed every bit of offence it has received from Raymond, who sits third in team scoring, trailing only Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk.

Among the more consistent and versatile options in the Toronto lineup, Raymond has not gone more than four games without a point and is tied for second in December scoring after leading the team in November.

He is averaging what would be a career-high of more than 18 minutes.

With the increased opportunity, Raymond is on pace to best the career year he had in 2009-10. That season, playing mostly alongside Ryan Kesler, he totaled 25 goals and 53 points, numbers he's in line to match or even exceed this season.

Is he a better player now?

"I like to think I have more experience and have learned from a lot of situations that I've been through," said Raymond, his recovery from broken vertebrae in his back and a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2011 among the challenges and experiences. "All those things, any person will tell you in any aspect of life, having experience will help you in many situations."

Raymond may not like "putting the spotlight" on himself, but the Leafs have to hope his play keeps doing it anyway.

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