It’s been over two months since the last time we were able to watch hockey, and we still have no idea when and if the season will return at all. However, there is one thing we can still do — speculate about who the Anaheim Ducks will select at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Before the season was suspended the Ducks held the fifth-overall selection. The NHL is still deciding on when the draft will occur and what rule changes will take place. Either way, the Ducks will have a strong group of prospects to choose from. One player who’s name could still be on the board is Frolunda HC forward Lucas Raymond.
Related: THW’s 2020 Draft Guide
It’s likely Raymond would have to fall for him to be available for Anaheim at fifth overall. Several analysts have him ranked as the second-best prospect in the class including Larry Fisher’s Top-400 for May. However, the lowest we’ve seen him ranked is fifth overall on ISS March Rankings. If he’s available for Anaheim, it’s hard to imagine they wouldn’t snap him up.
Raymond Has Few Weaknesses
The Swedish forward spent most of the season playing against the country’s top competition in the Swedish Hockey League. After torching J20 competition in the SuperElit last season to a tune of 48 points in 37 games played, Raymond posted 4 goals and 6 assists in 33 games in the SHL this season.
Those numbers may look underwhelming, but when you consider he was playing in arguably the third-best league in the world and only receiving bottom-six minutes, it’s a pretty impressive achievement. In comparison, fellow Swedish top prospect Alexander Holtz posted nine goals and six assists for Djurgårdens IF in the SHL while receiving more ice time.
Raymond is an extremely well-rounded and supremely talented winger. His hockey IQ is among the top of the draft class and he plays with intensity on both sides of the puck. The Ducks’ could use a player who thinks the game at the same level as top prospect Trevor Zegras.
Not only could Raymond be classed as having the top hockey IQ in the draft, he also could be one of the very best playmakers. He’s extremely creative with the puck on his stick and has the ability to make something out of nothing. He isn’t afraid to take defenders on one-on-one and even if he loses the puck, his commitment to the defensive side of the game coupled with elite speed and puck-stealing ability means he can recover quickly.
Fellow staff writer Brandon Share-Cohen described Raymond’s speed in his recent prospect profile:
A good skater with elite straight-line speed, Raymond has the ability to blow past his opposition and use his creativity to develop the play for his teammates. He’s also capable of using solid lateral edge-work to skate around opponents in the neutral zone and blast into the offensive zone with a head of steam.
With Dallas Eakins behind the helm, there is an increased emphasis on creativity and puck possession. The Ducks play an end-to-end style that would suit a player like Raymond who has a relentless motor and loves to have the puck on his stick.
With the Ducks finishing 29th in goals per game, they could definitely use an elite finisher. Although his shot may not be at the same level as Alexander Holtz or Tyson Foerster, he possesses a hard and accurate shot that combined with his elite hockey IQ can translate to a 30-goal scorer at the NHL level.
Where Does He Fit in Anaheim?
The Ducks have several young players fighting for a roster spot when hockey resumes. Raymond would immediately shoot to the top of a list the includes Troy Terry, Maxime Comtois, Max Jones and Sonny Milano. The decision will come down to whether the Ducks believe Raymond is ready for the NHL next season or if they decide to send him back to Sweden.
Related: Anaheim Ducks Jersey History
If he joins up with Anaheim for the 2020-21 season, then there is the very real possibility that he lines up on the right side of Trevor Zegras — two players who would be vying for a Calder Trophy and immediately improve the Ducks’ struggling offence. You can’t help but imagine how dynamic that duo would be on the ice, but Ryan Getzlaf and Adam Henrique would also be suitable options to line up with Raymond.
Swedenheim rejoice. Raymond jumps to the top of the depth chart and challenges Jakob Silfverberg and Rickard Rakell for the best in the position.
Raymond Improves Power Play Significantly
If you’ve been following the Ducks closely over the last three seasons, then you’re likely well versed in their power play struggles. They’ve been ranked in the bottom third for power play efficiency, converting on only 16.56% of their opportunities.
Bob Murray mentioned at the Ducks’ Hockey Hot Stove event in March that the power play was his number one concern. Although it might not be common for a winger to quarterback a power play, Raymond has the offensive ability and defensive awareness to command the blue line.
Raymond doesn’t solve all of the Ducks’ power play woes, but coupled with Trevor Zegras, they provide a spark that should significantly improve the Ducks’ chance on the man advantage. Another season of experience for Dallas Eakins should also improve the systemic problems left over from Randy Carlyle’s tenure.
Assuming the Ducks don’t win the lottery and move up to the first-overall pick, Raymond would be an enticing consolation prize if he was available at fifth overall. The Ducks do love their Swedish players, having selected at least one in 8 of the last 10 drafts. Raymond instantly challenges Zegras for the best prospect in the organization, and would accelerate a rebuild that’s just getting started.