TAMPERE, Finland — Lucas Raymond is more than willing to get out his wallet to spring for dinner this time.
The Detroit Red Wings forward can even make the restaurant recommendation too.
That’s because Raymond will serve as a small contingent of honorary hosts when the Red Wings travel to Stockholm as one of four NHL teams participating in the 2023 NHL Global Series from Nov. 16-19.
“It’s going to be unbelievable,” the 21-year-old said. “So excited when I heard the news. I texted all the guys immediately, told them ‘OK, buckle up.’ It’ll be really fun. I can finally make some dinner reservations, too. I’m usually just cruising along. So, that’ll be really exciting, and to play in front of friends and family, it’ll be really special.”
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The Global Series is a four-day, round-robin set of regular-season games set in Sweden’s capital city, where the Red Wings will be joined by the Minnesota Wild, Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs.
It could be an expensive trip too.
Raymond, from Gothenburg, about a 5 1/2-hour drive from Stockholm, knows he’ll be picking up that dinner tab along the way.
“I think that’s the expectation,” he said. “I’m going to pull the card that there’s a lot of Swedes on the team so we should all pitch together. But I think I’ll be the one ending up with it. I don’t mind.
“If there’s one country I would probably do it it’d be Sweden.”
The trip will be Raymond’s second international foray in a six-month span. He represented Sweden at the 2023 IIHF World Championship in Finland and Latvia, but was eliminated in quarterfinal action in Riga against the host Latvians on Thursday, ending their bid for their first medal at the tournament since 2018.
Though it’s a short-term disappointment, it’s an experience Raymond hopes will further his development in the long term.
“I think hockey-wise it helps, but I think a lot as a person too, responsibility and being one of the leaders on this team to see it all the way,” Raymond, an alternate captain for Sweden, said prior to the elimination. “I think that is a great experience for me. I feel like I’m growing every season. I think I’m learning new things.
“That’s probably the biggest thing, that you’re curious and wanting to learn things.”
The education should serve the Red Wings well.
Selected by Detroit with the No. 4 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, Raymond had 57 points (23 goals, 34 assists) in 82 games as a rookie with the Red Wings in 2021-22, and followed that up with 45 points (17 goals, 28 assists) in 74 games this season.
Video: 2023 NHL Global Series launches in Sweden
He’s a key piece tasked with returning Detroit to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after it has missed out the past seven seasons. The Red Wings qualified for the postseason 25 straight seasons from 1991-2016, winning the Stanley Cup in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008.
“He’s obviously a great player,” Detroit forward and Canada center Joe Veleno said. “He’s got everything on the ice. He makes plays. He’s creative. He’s a good skater and sees the ice. He’s going to be an elite winger in the NHL and an elite point-producer. He keeps working hard every day and he’s ultra-competitive.
“He’s got that gamer in him.”
Red Wings teammate and Germany defenseman Moritz Seider agreed.
“Man, the sky’s the limit for him,” Seider said. “I think he’s unbelievable with the puck. He gets into the right spots without the puck. He’s not afraid to even get into the dirty areas and do the hard work. You can see it definitely pays off. And he’s even more fun off the ice. I really enjoy having him on my side and going through it with him for sure.”
Sweden briefly benefited from that; Raymond had eight points (two goals, six assists) in eight games at the World Championship, tied for second-most on the team.
The hope, however, is he’s unavailable to represent Sweden next year, instead going on a playoff run with Detroit (35-27-10), which had its winningest season since 2015-16, the last time it qualified for the postseason.
“I think we took a step this year as a team,” Raymond said. “I think we still have a bit to go to really be a contender. Obviously, I would have wanted to be in the playoffs. That’s not the scenario for us at the moment.
“But I know that we’ll get there one day and I think this is good preparation for that as well, playing more games and playing later in the summer.”