Lucas Raymond makes Red Wings' opening-night roster
Detroit — Lucas Raymond probably wasn't expected to make the Red Wings' out of his first training camp, but he did.
The Red Wings made the decision official Monday, listing Raymond on their opening-night roster ahead of Thursday's game against Tampa Bay.
While Raymond, 19, the 2020 first-round draft pick, made the team, Joe Veleno was sent back to Grand Rapids and Bobby Ryan was released from his professional tryout — though there still might be a glimmer of a chance Ryan could return.
With Michael Rasmussen, Givani Smith and Adam Erne all battling injuries, and the Wings possibly in need of offense down the line, general manager Steve Yzerman hinted Ryan could still be in the picture.
"We felt that Bobby had a good preseason for us, but due to roster limitations, we aren't able to offer him a contract at this time," Yzerman said in a statement announcing the roster. "We will continue to evaluate whether there is an opportunity for Bobby in Detroit as the 2021-22 season begins."
Ryan, 34, had two goals in six exhibition games with two assists. But the Wings are going younger with the lineup, especially with the decision to keep Raymond, who was arguably one of the Wings' best players during camp.
Raymond was skating on the top line during Monday's practice with Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi.
“Potentially we like the look of that line," Blashill said after Monday's practice. "Bert goes and gets the puck a lot. Larks brings that pace high, and Lucas is a really smart, savvy offensive player.
"We’ll have to continue to watch it and see.”
There has been a perception throughout the preseason that Ryan and Raymond were essentially fighting for one available spot in the lineup. But Blashill insisted that wasn't he case.
“There’s a lot of factors that go into that, but (Raymond’s) play, did that have a factor? Sure," Blashill said. "Did other guys’ play have a factor. Yes. It definitely wasn’t (a battle between) two guys.”
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Raymond had six points in six games during the exhibition season, and played his best hockey in the first three games. Raymond went without a point in his final three games.
But Raymond's two-way play, his instincts on the ice, and playing beyond his age on the ice were impressive attributes that clinched a roster spot.
Playing with Larkin should help Raymond play with speed, something that Blashill feels Raymond could still work on.
“Larks gives anybody he plays with pace, and one thing Lucas has to continue to learn is to play at that higher pace,” Blashill said. “He’s a really smart player that has to move his feet more to go get pucks, to pressure. But Larkin kind of forces you to play at a pretty high pace."
Injuries could still play a role in the days ahead.
Erne didn't finish the second half of Monday's practice, nursing an undisclosed injury, and Rasmussen and Smith returned to the ice Monday after missing exhibition games last week.
“It’s a fluctuating roster all the time,” Blashill said. “Right now, we have some guys that are question marks that are going to work through the week, and we’ll see where they’re at health-wise and make the decision when we need to.
"(Erne) hadn’t skated to this pace in a while. He felt he could go longer. But from a medical perspective we decided for him to work his way into it. I’m hoping to have him ready for the opener, but I don’t have that answer yet.
"(Smith) is feeling better. I didn’t know if he was going to practice (Monday) and he went through the full practice, so that’s a positive sign."
The Wings felt Veleno, a Wings 2018 first-round pick, was best served by spending more time in Grand Rapids. Veleno will play first-line minutes, and gain valuable ice time he likely wouldn't have come close to getting with the Wings.
“That’s a huge part of the decision,” Blashill said. “He may be in a role that’s higher than he is here, which hopefully would maximize his development. And it gives us more organizational depth because he is a guy who can get sent down without exposing to waivers.
“Those are things that go into the decision. When guys play great, they find their way onto the team. When they’re playing good and other guys are playing good, then factors come into play like waiver-eligibility.”
The Wings' roster includes:
► Goaltenders: Alex Nedeljkovic and Thomas Greiss
► Defensemen: Danny DeKeyser, Filip Hronek, Nick Leddy, Gustav Lindstrom, Jordan Oesterle, Moritz Seider, Marc Staal, Troy Stecher
► Forwards: Tyler Bertuzzi, Adam Erne, Robby Fabbri, Sam Gagner, Dylan Larkin, Vladislav Namestnikov, Michael Rasmussen, Lucas Raymond, Carter Rowney, Givani Smith, Mitchell Stephens, Pius Suter, Filip Zadina,