Inexpensive Taylor Raddysh Has Become Invaluable For Blackhawks
When the Blackhawks traded Brandon Hagel to the Tampa Bay Lightning last year, everyone applauded Chicago’s rookie general manager for getting two future first round picks in the trade. The focus was so heavily on the draft capital added in the deal that many took for granted the two players involved in the trade: Taylor Raddysh and Boris Katchouk.
Over the two full seasons following the trade, Raddysh and Katchouk would combine to make roughly the same cap hit as Hagel, so the money worked out okay for the Bolts. Chicago was looking for players who could help their NHL roster in the vision of the new front office.
Both players were originally second-round picks by Tampa in the 2016 NHL Draft. Katchouk (44th overall) and Raddysh (58th) never found their footing in the NHL with with Tampa, however. Once they were traded to Chicago, the door opened to a better opportunity for each.
Raddysh spent parts of three seasons stuck in the AHL while with the Lightning organization (two of which were significantly impacted by COVID). He finally got a chance for a long look in the NHL at the start of the 2021-22 season; he appeared in 53 games for Tampa but only scored five goals with seven assists.
It was understandable, based on his limited experience and production, why fans weren’t starting a parade for Raddysh when he arrived. He scored six goals in 21 games with Chicago after the trade, and additional roster departures opened a more significant role for him with the Blackhawks. And Raddysh has excelled, becoming one of the best values in the entire NHL this season.
Only two players — LA’s Gabriel Vilardi (22) and Toronto’s Michael Bunting (20) — have scored more than Raddysh’s 17 goals while having a cap hit of less than $1 million this season. And only five forwards in the NHL have at least 30 points while having a six-digit cap hit; Raddysh’s 16:29 average ice time/game is the highest of those five players.
If you look at where Raddysh has scored a lot of his goals, he’s been on the doorstep and/or around the blue paint. His willingness to go to those areas on the ice have made him an easy target for passes no matter who has been on his line this season.
According to Natural Stat Trick, Raddysh ranks second on the Blackhawks at 5-on-5 individual high-danger scoring chances with 45, trailing only Andreas Athanasiou (55). Raddysh’s 11 goals scored at even-strength makes him the active team leader (Patrick Kane had 13). And, among Chicago forwards, only Jason Dickinson (50) and Athanasiou (38) have more even strength blocked shots than Raddysh’s 33.
Raddysh has been good enough that his name popped up in trade rumors before the deadline, and Frank Seravalli said this about him as a player to watch on the market:
With one more season on a cap hit that will technically be under league minimum next season, Raddysh is a steal. He’ll remain under team control after that, too, as a restricted free agent.
That’s right: Raddysh has another year of control at a $758,333 before hitting RFA. He’s a strong, physical wing who has worked well with just about anyone they’ve put out there at center with him throughout a trying season.
If Raddysh gets to 20 goals (or more) by the end of the season, you’ll hear his name more frequently in trade rumors. But the Blackhawks could view him as one of the players who can bridge them to the next generation.
Indeed, as we consider future moves that Kyle Davidson may make as he embarks on the next phase of the rebuild, his ability to find players like Raddysh (and Sam Lafferty for that matter) and provide them the opportunity to show their potential in the league should give us confidence that his pro scouting is already doing a better job than his predecessor’s did over the final six years of his regime.