Aside from all of the hubbub inside the Canucks’ crease this off-season, there is another player coming up for a contract renewal that should be receiving plenty of discussion as well: Mason Raymond. Aside from his ailing numbers and inability to stay on his feet, his current $2.55 million price tag will be a serious point of contention should he receive a qualifying offer at the bargaining table.
Raymond is currently signed to a 2-year $2.55 million contract that was put together with the projection of him being a 25 goal scoring, offense-driving winger. After he signed that deal his numbers plummeted despite for the most part maintaing his position on the second line for the Canucks (not to mention the team winning the Western Conference two years in a row). Last season he posted 39 points in 70 games, this year 20 points in 50 games – either way it is nowhere near where the franchise expected or needs him to be at.
Because Raymond is an RFA this offseason, it handcuffs the Canucks in terms of options. They cannot offer him less than he is already receiving through a qualifying offer, nor will they get much for him if they let him take offer sheets from other teams because of his poor performance over the past 2 seasons (the same goes for trade value). Gillis made it clear at the year end press conference that he has not given up on Raymond. Well, at $2.55 million and the Canucks desperately in need of an offensive spark, I certainly have.
Here is my proposition: Don’t put out a qualifying offer and let Raymond turn UFA, then re-sign him for $1.5-$1.75 million on a 1-year deal; give him the opportunity to prove himself again. he has suffered a pretty serious back injury in recent memory but will be at 100% come next season (if he isn’t fully healed and at top speed by then, he shouldn’t be on the team regardless).
It is time for Raymond to show he deserves the money he is being paid and re-earn a similarly contending contract as he did 2 years ago when he registered 25 goals and 53 points. Yes it’s a challenge and could be taken as unfair considering the injury he had and him having proven he can be a top-6 player on the Canucks in the past, but accomplishments from several years prior don’t stand up at the bargaining table.
If Raymond dislikes the idea or signs elsewhere at a higher salary than the Canucks are willing to offer him when he is turned UFA, so be it – he has been deadweight for the past 2 seasons and I take no issue with the Canucks freeing up $2.55 million in cap space for other possible signings. That being said, Raymond has played his entirely career in Vancouver and has started a family here; leaving to play in another city over the differential of half a million dollars via a 1-year contract seems drastic.
Best Case Scenario: Raymond plays like he did 2 years ago and becomes an offensive contributor to aid the Canucks in finding their scoring touch, not to mention at a bargain – gets re-signed the following post-season
Worst Case Scenario: Raymond plays like he has for the past 2 years but at a fitting price, and is let go at the end of the season
Twilight Zone: Raymond gets well overpaid for $3 million by a team that loves Canucks rejects (think Winnipeg), Canucks use the cap space to sign Shea Weber
Either way, it’s a win-win scenario for the Canucks.