No player at the 2005 Royal Bank Cup makes the pro scouts drool like Mason Raymond, but the Camrose Kodiaks right winger doesn’t seem to mind the extra attention.
In fact, judging from his play, the 19-year-old sniper actually welcomes the spotlight. Through three games, he leads the RBC in scoring with two goals and four assists.
“It wouldn’t say it adds extra pressure,” Raymond says of the row of scouts perched on the rail during each game at Weyburn’s Colosseum. “It’s an honour to be recognized, to know a scout’s out there looking for you. But I definitely try not to think about it, as much as I can, and just focus on the team.”
The team has excelled this season with Raymond leading the attack. The Kodiaks lost a measly eight regular-season Alberta Junior Hockey League games all year, and came into the Royal Bank Cup as Canada’s top-ranked Junior A squad. Raymond led the AJHL with 41 regular-season goals, and was named league MVP.
He’s used the national stage to showcase his blazing speed, regularly streaking past helpless defenders on highlight-reel rushes.
The NHL is taking notice, according to Kodiaks coach Boris Rybalka. Scouts have told him that his star right winger could go high in the draft – if and when the NHL and the union agreed to a collective bargaining agreement.
“In this year’s draft, you’ve got the Sidney Crosby’s and a few others, but Mason Raymond definitely is in that top round of choices,” Rybalka says. “The more people see of him, the more people say that he’s one of the top players in the country. That’s a testament to his talent level. You can see that he can turn on a dime, his speed level’s pro right now, and his shot’s a pro-level shot, so he deserves it.”
Raymond knows his stock is shooting through the roof at the RBC, but he’s quick to give credit to his linemates, 20-year-old veterans Chance Olsen and Kyle Parkes. Including playoffs, the explosive trio has combined for 138 goals and 322 points this season.
“We’ve been together all year, which has been nice,” Raymond says. “They go to the net well and move the puck well and see the ice well, and I owe a lot to them for where I am today.”
The Cochrane, Alberta product is set to play NCAA hockey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth this fall. In the meantime, the six-foot, 170-pounder plans to address what he believes is the biggest deficiency in his game – strength.
“I’m looking forward to the summer, to get a chance to do some off-ice training,” says Raymond, who hit the weight room for the first time in his career last summer. “The stronger I get, the more I realize how much better it is – I’m not thrown off the puck as easily.”
A bulked-up Mason Raymond? Heaven help opposing defensemen.
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