Mitch has been blogging faster than I can post lately. ‘Mitch the blog machine’ is what I call him. You can call him @Mitch_SBMedia on Twitter.
Last week the Vancouver Canucks decided to take Mason Raymond to club elected “cut-down” arbitration. What’s cut-down arbitration? You’re asking that like last week was the first time you had ever heard the term. Well, if that’s what you say, then I believe you. In fact, a lot of other people believe you too. Myself included. Cut-down arbitration is a form of arbitration that is used by the team to reduce the qualifying offer to a pending restricted free agent. The arbitrator may not award any less than 85% of last years’ salary, in the case of Mason Raymond that would be exactly $2.21 million. 15% less than the $2.6 he made last season. It should also be noted that Vancouver couldn’t walk away from the ruling because it’s club elected. However, they can still trade him once he has signed the qualifying offer.
Up until yesterday I was of the mind that Mason Raymond being on another team to start next season was a forgone conclusion, so when it was announced that Vancouver had retained his rights, or at least started a process in which they would seek to retain his rights for another season, it kind of took me by surprise, and a few Twitter users I follow as well.
One user by the name of @SocialAssassin2 said “I’ve been trashing that little shit Raymond for years. Certainly not gonna stop now. He has no place on this team, in my humble opinion”. At least his opinion is humble. Seriously though, for a long time I echoed these sentiments, I still do somewhat.
Bloggers @BrowntoBure (who have their own site you should check out www.browntobure.hockeyforums.net) also weighed in with some of the funniest tweets that weren’t from Alec Sulkin. They are as follows:
“Seriously, I cannot possible go another full season trying to come up with new ways of saying Mason Raymond sucks.” -They’re right. With his inability to stay on his feet, rebound from a check or his shooting when he should pass and his passing when he should be shooting, there really isn’t any clever other way to say it. Mason Raymond sucked last year. But it doesn’t stop there.
“Attention Raymond apologists: He was brutal BEFORE his back injury. I could care less what he may do in the regular season.” – That’s true. The season before his back injury was a step backwards. He missed 12 games and registered 10 fewer goals and 4 fewer assists then he did in a breakout season that saw him end a full 82 game schedule with 25 goals and 28 assists for 53 points.
After so many nights of screaming at my TV for him to stay on his feet, or the drinking games that were created at the expense of him falling down, why should I go out on a limb and defend him? Given the landscape of the free agent market and what is currently out there and for what Mason Raymond does, $2.21 for one year isn’t all that bad. Really, it’s not. If Chris Kelly gets $3 million per season for having a career best 20 goals and 39 points, it’s not far fetched to think that Raymond get $2.21 for what he could potentially do.
Having said that; I don’t think that Raymond should automatically be given an entire season to rebound. This is make or break. How he performs in camp and during the exhibition games will determine where he fits in the lineup, if at all. Remember, they can trade him at any point. I would imagine that he’d get a chance at second line minutes unless someone comes into camp and blows everyone away. I would assume that once again, he’d get an opportunity on the second unit power play. If he fails to perform to the best of his ability and isn’t able to regain a scoring touch that at it’s worst saw his longest goalless drought in 2009-2010 span a mere two weeks, then the plug on the Mason Raymond experiment will likely end.
At the end of the day I don’t think bringing him back is such a bad idea. I know that if it back fires then I’ll probably be the first person along with @Socialassassin2 and @BrowntoBure throwing shit at my TV or taking a shot of whiskey or slamming an entire beer every time he falls down. But if it goes to plan and the Canucks have 20+ goal scorer for under $3 million dollars for the season, then it doesn’t seem so bad.
Rob Says: Mason Raymond isn’t a bad hockey player. He has good speed, he is a good penalty killer, and has the ability to score 20 goals. But he is not a fit on the Vancouver Canucks as they are currently constructed. He is a square peg and they’re trying to put him in a round hole. He can’t play with the Sedins, he doesn’t have good chemistry with Ryan Kesler and he is too small/soft to play on the third line (especially if that third line also includes another small player in Jannik Hansen). I think Mason Raymond would be a great fit on a third line in Nashville or Phoenix, but not in Vancouver. I believe taking him to cut-down arbitration is a great idea, because he is still a tradable asset in my opinion. Hopefully that’s what Gillis is thinking too.