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Apr 8, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Mason Raymond (12) reacts as he skates with the puck as Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Eric Brewer (2) defends during the third period at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Mason Raymond Will be Missed by the Toronto Maple Leafs

I’m probably alone in this, but I think Mason Raymond deserved another shot with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

This isn’t to say Raymond was an essential part of the team or a game changer in any sense of the imagination. However, he did provide the Leafs with a healthy dose of speed and he was always a threat to score even if his production was slow or seemed non-existent at times.

The speedy and skilled winger was also a main cog in Toronto’s counterattack, which was basically the team’s identity last season.

In 82 contests for the Leafs, Raymond potted 45 points (19 goals, 26 assists) and registered a -6 ranking. Six of his goals were scored on the power play where I would argue he was underused at times.

Another benefit to Raymond was his relatively cheap cost. He signed a tryout contract worth $1 million last season and although he received a major pay upgrade from the Calgary Flames this off-season, his annual salary cap hit of $3.1 million over the next three seasons is very reasonable when compared to the type of money other secondary forwards made in free agency this past week.

Let me put it this way: would you rather have Raymond in your lineup or fellow former Leafs Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin at significantly higher costs?

My main concern here isn’t that Raymond’s an irreplaceable player for the Leafs. It’s that the Leafs didn’t do enough to replace him on the team. A 45-point player can’t be subtracted from the lineup without some noticeable consequences in terms of the team’s offence.

Is Petri Kontiola the answer? We’ll see, but let me say this: the KHL isn’t the NHL. A superstar there is oftentimes a disgruntled player here.

Toronto had a known asset in Raymond. He could’ve been kept at some expense to the team, but this is surely better for a team that can’t afford to make too many mistakes.

If the Leafs really want to improve, they need to recognize what already works for them. Raymond fell into this category.

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Tags: Mason Raymond Mikhail Grabovski Nikolai Kulemin Petri Kontiola Toronto Maple Leafs

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