Taylor Raddysh’s first week with the Blackhawks couldn’t have gone better.
Acquired from the Lightning in the trade of Brandon Hagel, Raddysh transitioned from a fourth-line role in Tampa, Fla., to a second-line role in Chicago and adapted quickly.
After a quiet start against the Wild, he had four combined points and 10 shots on goal in his next three games (against the Jets, Ducks and Kings), which had an immediate impact on the ice.
Off the ice, his pre-existing chemistry with Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome — his teammates with the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League in 2016-17 — as well as Boris Katchouk, who accompanied him in the trade, l helped to acclimate socially. Caretaker coach Derek King would later say that Raddysh “looked comfortable from the start”.
“Honestly, the transition was easy,” Raddysh, 24, said Thursday. ”The guys have been so welcoming to me, and [it has] been great fun. Coming to a team, you never know what to expect, but it was pretty easy. I’m really enjoying it so far.”
However, Raddysh has come down to earth lately. He came into Thursday’s Hawks game against the Kraken with just one point and eight shots on goal in his last five games.
”We gave [Raddysh] too much right off the bat, and it faded a bit,” King said Thursday. ”[He and Katchouk] sloppy the last two games a bit. They looked tired.
“I think they are refreshed now, so my message to [Raddysh] today, when I spoke to him, it was to put it simply, shoot the puck. He has a good shot, so why pass the puck? Obviously there’s a time and a place to do it, but you have to be a little selfish once in a while.
Notably, Raddysh’s shooting rate regressed and was back in line with his season average. He took 10.9 shots per 60 minutes at even strength with the Hawks, compared to 10.5 with the Lightning.
And while his massive increase in playing time — 16 minutes, 14 seconds with the Hawks, compared to 11:03 with the Lightning — gives him even more of an impact chance, he hopes to become a true second-line forward. .
“I just need to be more of a complete player,” Raddysh said. ”It’s something I try to do [on] both ends of the ice. In Tampa, I was more of a defensive guy, where they needed me; here there is a greater role.
“I just have to keep shooting. It’s one of my greatest strengths. I have chances and maybe I look too much for the other guys. I have shots that are there, and I just have to start taking them. The guys I played with did a good job of finding me; I just have to start putting more pucks on the net.
So far, Raddysh has acted as a “bumper” on the first power-play unit, which he said he’s played before, but not in the NHL. Coincidentally or not – the Hawks’ power play settings aren’t much better with Raddysh than without him – the power play came into play Thursday a solid 7 for 23 (30.4%) since his arrival .
After a hectic initial move, Raddysh finally picked up the rest of his stuff when the Hawks traveled to Tampa last week. Contracted through 2024 with an affordable salary cap of $758,333, he can settle in Chicago knowing there’s a good chance he’ll stick with the rebuild.
”It’s a fresh start here, so [I have] come in and keep proving myself every day,” he said.