Oft-criticized Canucks winger Mason Raymond, who struggled mightily upon returning from broken vertebrae last season, re-signed with the Canucks today. The deal means that Raymond and the Canucks will avoid what was sure to be a contentious "cut down arbitration" hearing.
Here’s the official press release from canucks.nhl.com and here are the terms of the new deal, as per Darren Dreger:
Canucks settle with Mason Raymond before arbitrations. 1 year, $2.275 mil.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) July 9, 2012
Read past the jump for more.
This is the second time in the past two summers that the Canucks and Mason Raymond have reached an agreement on a contract rather than head to arbitration. In the summer of 2010, Mason Raymond and the team agreed on a two-year 5.2 million dollar deal on the eve of Raymond’s hearing. At the time, Raymond was coming off of a 25 goal "career year," and getting him locked up on a two year deal with a relatively low cap-hit represented enormous value.
This summer, after seeing his production, ice-time and underlying numbers crater – Mason Raymond had little leverage. In fact, the team didn’t even qualify him as they normally would’ve. Rather, they took active steps to try and reduce his salary.
Raymond’s qualifying offer would’ve entitled him to 2.6 million this summer, but by electing to take him to arbitration instead, the Canucks sought to reduce Raymond’s salary by as much as 15% (2.21 million dollars). Basically, Mason Raymond is only going to be making 65k more than the absolute lowest amount an arbitrator could’ve awarded him. In this case, Raymond waved the white flag and decided to take significantly less than his qualifying offer should’ve been worth rather than go through with what probably would’ve been an extremely acrimonious arbitration process.
As a signing for the Canucks, this deal makes sense. Mason Raymond was inarguably woeful last season, no doubt about that, but in every season prior to that – he’d been a useful player. Canucks fans turned on Raymond when the percentages got away from him in 2010-11, but that’s wrong-headed nonsense, and it was only really last season that Raymond struggled.
The big issue with Raymond, is that he does a lot of "little things" that fans tend not to notice. He’s not a big hitter, and he doesn’t finish particularly well – but when he’s on his game he drives play (which earns the Sedins extra offensive zone opportunities) and uses his speed to draw a whole whack of penalties (which earns the Sedins extra power-play opportunities).
Considering the consistency of Raymond’s performance up until this past season, the nature of the back injury he suffered only 13 months ago, and his inability to train last summer – I think it’s a reasonable bet that Mason Raymond will rebound this season. And if he doesn’t? Well at least on a one year deal worth 2.275 million, there’s really no risk to the Canucks. The majority of the fan-base may not like it, but what do they know anyway?