When the Detroit Red Wings drafted Lucas Raymond fourth overall in the 2020 NHL Draft, everyone knew he would be good. Renowned scouts in the hockey world and casual fans saw his potential, both at the time of the selection and as he developed in the SHL and at the World Junior Championships.
However, I don’t think anyone thought that Raymond would come in and light up the NHL like he has this season. At the beginning of the season, head coach Jeff Blashill put him on the first line, and he lit it up from there. In the first 23 games of the season over the months of October and November, Raymond had 21 points and emerged as the Calder Trophy favorite. He added another seven points in nine games in December, but he hit a small pothole in the road like most young players.
From the beginning of December to the end of January, he scored two goals in 23 games. While he did have 14 points in total (an even split of seven points in each month), his goal-scoring took a hit, and as players like Trevor Zegras hit lacrosse style goals and alley-oop passes, he started to fall off the radar slowly.
Of course, he was still the leader in points. However, he wasn’t “dominating” as much as he was in those first two months. In 18 games from February to our current place in March, Raymond has 13 points, and in total, he has 20 goals and 28 assists for a total of 48 points in 65 games.
Raymond is tied for second in the rookie goal-scoring race with Michael Bunting of the Toronto Maple Leafs, both of whom are behind Tanner Jeannot of the Nashville Predators. He is also tied for first with Bunting in the overall scoring race. However, even with all of the leads or ties in the counting stats and the solid start for his season, he’s lost the lead in the race to his teammate in Moritz Seider.
Since the season began, Seider has been among the top three with Raymond and Zegras. However, most recently, he has taken the Calder chariot reins in this particular Olympic race.
The 6-foot-4 tank of a defenseman has been able to wow the NHL community not only because of his skating ability paired with his size, but he has also proven to be an extremely strong, if not elite, puck-mover in both transition and the offensive zone. Oh, and he delivers some unbelievably crushing hits, like the one you see here:
Moritz Seider plays chess while the players who try to hit him are playing checkers. pic.twitter.com/OThgHkOnrf— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 23, 2022
Many things make Seider special, but what do his numbers look like relative to his competition?
For starters, he’s fourth in rookie, scoring with five goals and 37 assists for 42 points in 65 games played. Twenty-three of those points have come at even-strength, 17 have come on the power play, and two of the assists have come shorthanded. He leads all rookies in assists, and he is sixth in points per game among rookies at 0.65. It might be better if it wasn’t for some point-scoring droughts in November, January, and currently, March.
Seider is a defenseman, and at the ripe age of 20, expecting him to be on the stat sheet consistently is a lofty expectation. However, he has proven that he can be an elite scorer considering in the other months (October, December, February), he’s at a point per game with 25 in 25 games. All this is said without mentioning he is carrying the load on the defensive end for the Red Wings. He’s averaging an incredible 23:08 minutes, which is 37th among defensemen. Again, he’s 20-years-old.
The game that Seider played the most minutes was most recently against the New York Islanders. He played 28:07 of the game. In 12 games this season, he has played over 25 minutes, and in 22 games, he has played over 24 minutes. Seider's sheer amount of ice time is impressive enough to warrant some serious consideration for the award. Still, what he does in those minutes catches everyone’s attention.
If those numbers aren’t enough to convince anyone that he has taken the lead in the race, advanced analytics will be sure to prove that theory even further. Seider sits second on the Red Wings in goals for percentage (GF%) behind only Tyler Bertuzzi at 52.19 percent. However, he sits 10th in expected goals for percentage (xGF%) at 46.87. In the regularized adjusted plus-minus (RAPM) stats, Seider leads Raymond in every single category at even-strength.
Here is Seider’s RAPM chart:
And here is Raymond’s:
Seider, according to the analytics, has been the better player on offense, and especially on defense. Although Raymond’s defense doesn’t matter as much, it’s important to note that Seider is putting up strong defensive results against some tough competition with a less-than-admirable partner.
Further adding to Seider’s argument, he ranks 12th overall in goals above replacement (GAR) among defensemen and 44th in expected goals above replacement (xGAR) among defensemen. He ranks higher than Raymond in GAR and sits slightly behind him in xGAR, although it is essential to mention that the stats are not the same due to the difference in positions. Seider’s expected goal numbers will undoubtedly be affected by his shot selection and how limited it is.
Both Raymond and Seider have been in the top three of the Calder Trophy race since the season began, and they haven’t looked back. Despite scoring droughts from both, the narrative has shifted towards Seider becoming the favorite to win the award. The statistics also support it. Of course, Red Wings fans can’t be complaining. Whether it’s Raymond or Seider taking home the prestigious honor, it’s a win-win situation.
Not only will these two rookies be entertaining Wings fans for years to come on the ice, but the MoJoe Show with Raymond as a special guest will never get old. Seider has taken the lead in the Calder race, but no matter who the award goes to, these young players will be a massive part of the NHL’s future and the Red Wings’ future too.