The Chicago Blackhawks didn't make a splash in free agency, and rightfully so. They had most of their core already signed, with the exception of forward Bryan Bickell. Bickell was signed to a four-year, $16 million contract in the offseason. The team also resigned forward Michal Handzus and defenseman Michal Rozsival, but the two of them aren't in the Blackhawks' future plans. The Blackhawks lost forwards Dave Bolland, Michael Frolik, Viktor Stalberg and Daniel Carcillo this past offseason to trade or free agency. With the team not signing any free agent forwards, they will turn to their young prospects to fill the void. Players like Brandon Pirri, Ben Smith and Jeremy Morin will be called upon to help the team. While the roster for 2013-2014 is close to being determined, there are a few unknowns surrounding the younger players. Perhaps the Blackhawks could benefit from bringing in a cheap free agent forward to assume one of the roster spots, which will allow some of the younger players to ease their way in. Enter Mason Raymond.
Mason Raymond, 27, is currently an unrestricted free agent. He spent the last six years playing for the Vancouver Canucks. Raymond is amongst the fastest skaters in the league and has showed goal scoring potential. Though he's not a top forward, he could add some depth to the back end of the Blackhawks' roster.
Last season, Raymond had 10 goals and 12 assists in 46 games for the Canucks. His best year came in 2009-2010 where he scored 25 goals and added 28 assists.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are scheduled to bring in Raymond for a tryout this week. Raymond has ties to Leafs GM Dave Nonis due to him drafting Raymond in the second round (51st overall) of the 2005 NHL Draft.
Since he's still an unrestricted free agent, Raymond will likely receive a smaller contract for the 2013-2014 season. He's estimated to be worth around $1 million or less. With the Blackhawks having approximately $2 million left in cap space, they could decide to take a chance on him. By at least bringing him in for a tryout, the team can see if he can develop chemistry with the other forwards on the team. They can also see if his speed will bring the team a bigger advantage and if he can help out on power plays or on the penalty killing unit.
Mason Raymond could potentially fit in well with the Blackhawks. The team likes to play fast and open up the ice, which is exactly what he excels in doing. It is unknown whether the team will bring him in or not, but it is definitely something to consider. It could be a low-risk, high-reward signing for the Blackhawks.
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