DETROIT -- On October 6, 2020, Lucas Raymond became the Detroit Red Wings' highest draft pick since Keith Primeau in 1990.
And in the eight months since Raymond was Detroit's No. 4 overall selection, he's lived up to the billing of a top-five selection and continues to impress overseas.
In his third season playing for Frolunda HC of the Swedish Hockey League, Raymond earned 18 points on six goals and 12 assists in 34 games.
The 19-year-old's production in Sweden's most competitive league this year was good for fifth-best of any SHL junior-aged player (two players ahead of him are Red Wings prospects in Moritz Seider and Albert Johansson), despite having his season shortened due to an upper-body injury.
Raymond said he's benefitted greatly from playing against men in the SHL since he was 17 years old.
"I think it has helped me a lot, not just on the ice but off the ice as well," he said after he was drafted by Detroit in October. "It's a different game. You really have to be strong in the battles around the boards, and really take what is given. You really have to have that attacking mindset."
The 5-foot-11, 170-pound native of Gothenburg, Sweden also represented his country in the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship this past January and tied for the team lead in scoring with five points in five games. It was his second time competing in the World Junior Championship after helping Team Sweden win a bronze medal in 2020.
Video: Lucas Raymond | Highlights
Raymond, who was ranked the third-best prospect by TSN and fourth-best by The Hockey News in each respective publication's most recent list, said he was thrilled to hear his name called last October by an Original Six franchise with such rich history of Swedish success.
"It was extremely exciting," Raymond said on draft night. "I mean, a dream come true. Especially in Detroit, legendary Swedes have played there. I'm so happy and honored to be a part of the Detroit Red Wings."
Red Wings executive vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman was as excited as Raymond to be able to select a player of his pedigree with the fourth overall pick.
"We think he has all the tools to be an elite forward in the NHL," Yzerman said in October. "We think he has excellent hockey sense. Very creative player, good shooter, good all-around skills for the game, very competitive, very smart. We kind of like the whole package. Everything about his game. We don't see any real weaknesses or shortcomings."
And now, eight months after the 2020 Draft, Yzerman is just as enthusiastic about Raymond's potential, but true to the GM's mantra, he preached patience for expectations on high-end prospects like Raymond and Seider, the Wings' 2019 sixth overall pick.
"If they make the team, we would be thrilled. They are young guys. I want them to make the team and have a positive impact," Yzerman said about Raymond and Seider at his season-ending press conference on May 18. "Lucas, I don't want to rule it out. Again, we will let the situation play itself out and if they prove they are ready to go, they will be on the team. We just have to wait. I am not going to force it or rush them. We have high expectations for them, but they are going to need to earn it."
"He just has to put the time and the work in. It's a natural evolution of a teenager turning into an adult," Yzerman added. "We just believe it's a matter of time, and we're confident he'll put the work in and develop the strength and power needed to do the things he wants to do in the NHL."