Facin’ Mason

Mason Raymond made some noise in Vancouver today by skating with the Canucks for the first time since game six of the Stanley Cup Finals. Raymond was projected to return to the roster for late November, but the news that he’s already skating with the team – in contact drills, no less – has the armchair Mike Gillises (Gillis’s? Gilli?) worked into a frenzy.

Or as far as any creature on CDC can tell, just another day.

Mason Raymond, shortly before falling into a T3-induced coma.

While Raymond’s progress has come as surprising, don’t expect the capricious Canuck to suit up in his regular top-six role any time soon. Last year’s 39-point season (15G, 24A in 70GP) was wildly underwhelming after a 25-goal, 53-point effort the year prior. Couple that with his veritable invisibility in the postseason (2G, 6A in 24GP) and Mason wasn’t looking like a lock to make the second line come training camp.

Not much has changed a month in either, and it’s because of Cody Hodgson, Chris Higgins and David Booth.

Hodgson – he of the silent “g” – has amassed three goals and four assists in fifteen games thus far; good enough for seventh overall in rookie scoring. What’s important to note here is that Hodgson is averaging significantly less icetime than the top six (only Sean Couturier is averaging less TOI/G at 13:28 to Cody’s 13:49), and is a full two minutes under Raymond’s average for last year. Without making any Calder trophy predictions, if “Little Linden” can find an extra gear and earn more minutes on the scoring lines, a darkhorse nomination can’t be counted out.

Higgins has been as consistent as anyone could have hoped for, only failing to record a point in consecutive games twice in this young season (Oct. 22nd – 26th, Nov. 3rd – 4th). He’s tied with Daniel Sedin for the team lead in goals with six, adding three assists. He’s also thrown 18 hits – already half the total Raymond threw last year in a quarter of games played.

Booth has had an understandably slow start since changing coasts, but in his time with Vancouver he’s compiled four points (1G, 3A in 7GP), good enough to be clipping over 0.5PPG. This projects him to be just under a 50-point player, and that’s while he’s transitioning to the western conference, the northwest division, and Alain Vigneault’s game. Once he finds his niche on the second line, upwards of sixty points is completely plausible. Another player projected for just below 50 points this campaign? Ryan Kesler, and Canucks fans know what will happen when he finds his game.

Those are difficult numbers to crunch if you’re Mason Raymond. Perhaps the most challenging fact behind it all, however, is that even if he were to return as early as the 23rd in career-year form, some quick math projections dictate that his 17 goals over the remaining games of the season would be equal to the five-year younger Hodgson’s output and roughly only half of Higgins’.

Talk about a backbreaker.

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