A star was born for the Detroit Red Wings in 2023-24

Lucas Raymond quickly became a star for the Detroit Red Wings as the 2023-24 season wore on. The 22-year-old winger led the team in points, which will be reflected in his overall grade on his season-ending report card.
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Detroit Red Wings forward Lucas Raymond transformed from a very good young, up-and-coming complementary forward into a budding star with superstar potential right before our eyes over the course of the 2023-24 season.

Raymond, 22, led the Detroit Red Wings with 72 points and a 19% shooting percentage this past season while averaging less than 18 minutes of ice time per game. That point total included 31 goals, which finished second on the team behind Dylan Larkin's 33. The two 30-goal scorers anchored head coach Derek Lalonde's top line for the majority of the season, with the opposite wing becoming a bit of a revolving door between mostly David Perron or Alex DeBrincat.

In today's game, the plus/minus stat category doesn't hold much merit unless it changes drastically over a short period of time, such as Jeff Petry's during the month of March. Albeit Raymond's minus-12 rating this past year finished fourth worst on the club, tied with Perron, and just better than Robby Fabbri, Joe Veleno, and Shayne Gostisbehere, his overall play still warrants a season-ending A grade.

Detroit Red Wings forward Lucas Raymond enjoyed a breakout season in 2023-24, earning a top grade for his work.

Lucas Raymond. A. Forward. Detroit Red Wings. Lucas Raymond

Raymond, a pending restricted free agent, really blossomed during the second half of the season. During his season-ending exit interview, he mentioned that the thought of his next deal weighed on him during the first half of the season. Raymond totaled 12 goals in his first 45 games of the season, but once the Red Wings remained firmly in the playoff hunt, the budding star really put the accelerator onto the floor.

"He certainly showed, more so down the stretch, his game-breaking ability, scoring big goals, key goals. I don’t think that’s an aberration," Yzerman said. "I think he’s going to continue to do that."

Raymond scored 14 goals in Detroit's final 18 games and totaled seven goals and 12 points over the team's final eight games while maintaining a plus-8 rating playing over 20 minutes per night. Raymond quickly became the go-to forward when Larkin was sidelined with an injury in March. Although the Red Wings as a team didn't see much of any success without Larkin, the organization, along with the fanbase, caught a glimpse of what Raymond really is and the overall trajectory he's on. Raymond also displayed the ability to protect the puck in the offensive zone and established he could work well along the wall, winning his share of the 50/50 puck battles.

When push came to shove, it was Raymond pacing the Red Wings offense, and his willingness and ability to take over a game remains on the forefront of my mind. It's such a great sign of what is to come for the talented winger. Through his first three seasons, Raymond has totaled 71 goals and 174 points over 238 games. In comparison, over his first three seasons, Larkin recorded 56 goals and 140 points in 242 games.

Asked if he thinks he made the negotiation tougher on the Wings with his surge down the stretch, Raymond said, "I don't know if I made it tougher or the other way (around)."

"He’s a fabulous, talented player with great hockey sense. He plays with a lot of courage and a lot of determination and I think his confidence has grown over the course of the season. He's an exciting player, obviously, and can do some really special things with the puck," Yzerman said. "The term and the dollars gotta work for both parties," Yzerman said. "You have to pay a player enough that he’s willing to give you eight years (and delay unrestricted free agency), but also, it can be dangerous if you’re paying an extreme premium for potential. Because a lot of times it can be difficult.
"If you don’t have any cap issues or concerns, then you don’t worry about as much. But those deals make you have cap issues. Again, I’m certainly open to it, but the term and the dollar amount has gotta work for both parties and that can be a challenge."

Usually, a player enters their prime years around the age(s) of 25-27, so I am beyond excited to see where Raymond's career takes him. One thing is for certain: he's about to be paid. Earlier this season, I felt as though Raymond was a prime candidate to sign a bridge deal for two or three years. That notion has been thrown out the window: you don't sign star players to bridge deals, so expect to see an eight-year deal drawn up for Raymond and Moritz Seider this summer. Expect both deals to fall in the $8 million annually range.