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Taylor Raddysh Has Potential To Be Key Piece Of Next Great Blackhawks Team

Raddysh’s strong first impression and favorable contract should provide the Blackhawks some legitimate hope for the future.

Taylor Raddysh Chicago Blackhawks
Photo: NHL.com

When the Chicago Blackhawks sent Brandon Hagel to Tampa Bay at the NHL trade deadline, it was a tough pill to swallow. Coaches, players, and fans knew how much he meant to the team’s identity. His absence stings — and likely will for a while — but one player the Hawks acquired from the Lightning is helping ease the pain a bit: Taylor Raddysh.

Since coming to Chicago, Raddysh has made his presence felt. The 24-year-old forward has four points (two goals, two assists) in his first five games with the Blackhawks.

First Taste of Raddysh

In the first post-Hagel trade game, Chicago wasted no time showcasing its new players. Interim head coach Derek King plugged Raddysh and fellow acquisition Boris Katchouk into the starting lineup on March 19 at Minnesota.

Neither player factored into the Blackhawks’ lone goal in what was an acclimation game for the new faces. But when the team returned to the United Center the following day, Raddysh introduced himself to Chicago with a two-point outing.

Early in the second period against Winnipeg, he helped the Hawks break out of the defensive zone before recording a primary assist on a nice centering pass to punctuate the ensuing rush. Then, streaking down the slot on a third-period power play, Raddysh took a feed from Patrick Kane and buried a snapshot top shelf for his first goal with his new team.

When the Blackhawks embarked on a West Coast road trip, Raddysh’s scoring ability was on display once again. The 6-foot-3 winger has a strong shot, which he showcased on this first-period power-play tally against Anaheim.

But it’s not all about lighting the lamp for Raddysh. The following night in Los Angeles, he made an excellent play to set up Sam Lafferty’s third-period goal. Raddysh won a board battle and drew two defenders toward him before setting up a wide-open Lafferty in front of the net.

A Sweet Silver Lining

Of course, a few Taylor Raddysh highlights from a small sample size won’t make Chicago Blackhawks fans forget about Brandon Hagel. But the immediate production should provide some excitement for the future.

A driving factor behind Chicago netting such a sizeable haul for Hagel was his contract. The 23-year-old’s $1.5 million AAV deal runs through the 2023-24 season, after which he will become a restricted free agent. Should Hagel continue producing as he did with the Blackhawks, that’s incredible value for a stacked Lightning team that is no stranger to navigating a tight salary cap.

On the flip side, Raddysh’s contract spans the same length as Hagel’s with an RFA expiry status as well. But the new Blackhawk carries a $758,333 annual cap hit over that term, giving Kyle Davidson even more flexibility as he looks to build the next contender in Chicago. And playing for under $1 million for the next two seasons will surely motivate Raddysh to earn a future payday.

If Taylor Raddysh’s strong first impression is any indication of what’s to come, he could very well be a key piece of the next great Blackhawks team. With Chicago just kicking off its rebuild, such a scenario will remain hypothetical for now. But in the meantime, Raddysh can give further credence to that notion by continuing to light the lamp and dish out helpers.

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BS-Broadcast Journalism - University of Illinois 2016 | Editor-in-Chief at OnTapSportsNet.com | Panelist on Four Feathers Podcast and Sox On Tap

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