Photo: Mathias Pelkonen
Lucas Raymond says he’s starting to figure things out.
The first 2002-born player in the SHL, Raymond says he believes that he’s improving by the day.
“It’s going well, getting better every day,” Raymond said. “I’m doing my best to get my tempo up in the SHL. It’s getting better and better, getting stronger, so it’s going well.”
Much has been made of the spectacular duo that Raymond has formed on the top line for Sweden with Alexander Holtz. They both played a key role in Sweden’s run to the championship game at the Hlinka-Gretzky cup. Raymond says that off the ice, the pair are good friends, and stay in touch regularly.
“Well, Alex and I are really good friends,” Raymond said. “We keep in touch, not only for the national team, but also when he’s in Djurgårdens. We’re great friends and he’s a lot of fun to play with, easy to play with, it’s great.”
With both players projected to be top ten picks in the 2020 NHL Draft, Raymond says that while it is a ways away, it’s something he’d like to see happen.
“It’s a long way to the draft, but if that ends up happening, it will be great,” Raymond said. “Sweden has produced a lot of good players lately, first rounders, so of course I take pride in my country as well as playing for it.”
With former Frölunda defenseman Rasmus Dahlin going No. 1 overall last year, Raymond says that while Dahlin is a fantastic player on the ice, he learned more from observing his preparation off the ice.
“It’s hard for me to take stuff from Dahlin’s game because he’s a defenseman,” Raymond said. “Whenever you see him in the gym or at practices, his mentality to outwork everyone, and take care of his body is what makes him special. He’s very professional and it’s showed all of the guys at Frölunda how you need to work and what it takes to reach that level.”
When Raymond was asked about the differences between Swedish and Canadian hockey, he pointed to the mind set with which the players approach the game.
“Swedish players and Canadian players have some similarities in their games,” Raymond said. “But there’s some differences for sure. They have two different mentalities I think, but it is getting more similar and more similar. It’s tough to say all players are a certain way, but Swedes are recognized as passers and we make fancy plays, but Canadians are known much more as shooters, straight to the goal, crashing the net. Sweden has still had some goal scorers like (Gabriel) Landeskog and (Filip) Forsberg, so it’s changing a bit for sure, but Swedes are taking things from Canada and Canada is taking things from Sweden, so it’s becoming more similar.”
Raymond says he looks up to a legend, but he also idolizes Swedish players from past Frölunda teams.
“Sidney Crosby has been my idol ever since I was a kid,” Raymond said. “But I also looked up to some players from my organization at Frölunda like Joel Lundqvist, Johan Sundstrom, Fredrik Pettersen, players like that.”
Raymond said that while there was a big time difference between Vancouver and Göteborg, he did get a chance to see a bit of the World Juniors, and playing for Sweden in the World Juniors in the future is without-a-doubt a goal of his.
“It’s hard to watch some of the games when they’re broadcast at the middle of the night, but I did watch some of the Sweden games,” Raymond said. “It looks really fun and that’s a goal for me to make it but it’s a long journey, and I just have to keep working hard and see where it takes me.”
Raymond says the expectations aren’t something he gets from the outside, it all comes internally.
“I don’t think that I feel pressure from Sweden or the management,” Raymond said. “I feel more pressure from myself. I have goals for what I want to accomplish. There’s pressure on myself to get as good of results that I can, and to play well for my country.
“My parents have been great to me, always supporting me,” Raymond said. “My brother too, letting me hang out around his friends, taking me everywhere and helping me out, it’s been great.”
What has he learned thus far in the game of hockey?
“It’s been the team part mostly,” Raymond said. “Playing for each other and the team. I’m going to take that with me into my personal life and social life. You have to learn how to play for your teammates and not just for yourself.”
Raymond has 33 points in 25 games for the U20 Team at Frolunda this year and 2 points in 7 games for the SHL squad.
Video: Hockey Prospects Center