Lucas Raymond knows he has 'work to do' after making Wings' season-opening roster

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — When general manager Steve Yzerman called Lucas Raymond to meet on Monday, Raymond wasn't sure what expect.

Was Raymond getting sent to Grand Rapids? Was Raymond staying the NHL?

But the fact it was good news — Raymond was staying with the Red Wings — was a dream come true for the 19-year-old. 

Red Wings prospect Lucas Raymond will start the 2021-22 season in the NHL.

"I was unsure. I didn't know what to expect," Raymond said Tuesday. "If it goes well, it goes well. If it doesn't, we'll take it from there. But I'm glad it was good.

"Steve told me I played good during the preseason, but it's a lot of work still to do and (just because he made) the opening-night roster doesn't mean I'll play the entire season (in the NHL). 

"I'm excited to get going and start playing."

Raymond called his parents and family members in Sweden soon after.

"They were real happy for me," he said. "To play in the NHL has been a dream of mine since I (started) playing hockey at 3 years old."

Raymond, the Wings' 2020 first-round pick who was selected fourth overall, was penciled to begin the season in the AHL in Grand Rapids while getting acclimated to the North American professional game.

With a smaller ice surface, playing against the best players in the world and the adjustment to simply living in a new country, there was a lot to ask of a teenager.

But Raymond had an impressive prospects tournament, carried that performance over to the preseason and essentially played himself onto the NHL roster.

"Going into camp my mindset was I was do everything I could to make the team and block everything else out," Raymond said. "Then you prepare for whatever happens. If you don't (make the roster), and if that would have been the case, I would have been ready for that as well. But my main focus and goal was to make the team.

"You get more comfortable and get more tempo and everything, every game (during the preseason) helps.

"It's been a lot of work coming here and getting used to the ice and playing style, which is a little different. But I felt comfortable. You always have expectations, or how you think it'll be, but it's almost impossible to guess until you get out there. I enjoy it and I like to be out there."

Coach Jeff Blashill said Raymond is ready for the challenges ahead in the NHL because of an even-keeled personality that can take praise or criticism.

"Any young player coming in, and it's not even about the age, you have to make sure there's a lot of communication," Blashill said. "We want to make sure we're coaching them and when you coach people, you tell them what they're doing well and not so well that they can correct it.

"Mental toughness matters a ton and guys that can take coaching and positive reinforcement and can take criticism and stay pretty even keel and continue to do what they do on the ice, ultimately have success"

Raymond has been skating on a line with Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi during practice, a line that could fit well with Raymond's strengths given Larkin's creativity and hockey sense in the middle.

"Dylan is a great player and a great leader, as well, off the ice," Raymond said. "When I've played with him it's been real easy. He's a real smart player but with a lot of speed, and he does everything at a high pace. He has a great mind and he makes players around him better."

Next on the checklist for Raymond is eventually getting a car, once his spot on the NHL roster is solidified.

Raymond is sharing a living space with fellow rookie defenseman Moritz Seider, and Seider has replaced Joe Veleno as the designated Uber driver for now.

"He's taken over that spot," said Raymond, noting Seider acquired a new automobile Monday that the two took to Tuesday's practice. "Drove it this morning. Real nice, real nice."

Managing expectations

Fans have been clamoring to see Raymond and Seider in the Wings' lineup since they've been drafted.

Just like Wings fans were begging for Evgeny Svechnikov, Dennis Cholowski, Andreas Athanasiou and Riley Sheahan in years past, only to see the results not mesh with expectations.

"Over the last six to eight or 10 years, people have been real excited about (some prospects). Some of those guys have come and done a good job and some of those flattened out and don't play in the NHL," Blashill said. "I don't know if any of them have been elite, elite guys. Larkin has been the guy proven to be the best player of that group of young guys coming up through the system.

"We're always excited about potential and I get that. So am I. But potential has to become reality and both Seider and Raymond have attributes to be real good hockey players and real good winners, which matters.

"How good can they become? I don't know the answer. And how quickly? I don't know the answer. That's for them to decide with their play on a night to night basis."

Alternate captains

The Wings are likely to name new alternate captains — under captain Larkin — at some point soon.

With Luke Glendening and Frans Nielsen both leaving the roster during the offseason, the Wings are in need of two new ones.

"I'll let you know when we make that public," Blashill said.

Twitter: @tkulfan