The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the RawCharge community. Ten writers and 106 readers ranked players under the age of 25 as of September 1, 2017 in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked, plus Honorable Mentions.
Taylor Raddysh is a player that had very little to prove during his final season in the OHL. Coming off of an incredible 2016-17 season - in which he finished second in league scoring with 109 points - Raddysh spent this season trying to round out his game in preparation for making the jump to professional hockey.
In what was a re-building year for the Erie Otters, Raddysh was sent to the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds as a hired gun after his appearance at the World Junior Hockey Championship. Playing on a stacked Hounds team, Raddysh added the final 18 games of his junior career to his total, but more importantly, he was paired up with fellow Bolts prospect Boris Katchouk.
After finding success next to Katchouk at the World Juniors, Raddysh fit in perfectly upon his arrival in The Soo. Despite a disappointing loss in the OHL Final, Katchouk and Raddysh were absolutely dominant in the playoffs - finishing first and second respectively in playoff scoring.
This leads to the biggest question surrounding Taylor Raddysh: is he a legitimate top prospect or are his point totals a byproduct of playing with elite linemates? During his career-best 2016-17 season, Raddysh spent most of his time playing with Dylan Strome and Alex Debrincat - two of the best offensive minded OHLers of their generation. Raddysh was the third best player on the best line in junior hockey.
As you can see from the above heat map, Taylor Raddysh scores most of his goals from in close to the net. This is part thanks to elite linemates, but, more importantly, it’s thanks to his positional awareness and quick hands. Raddysh has the uncanny ability to find open space on the ice, and when that space is in tight to the net, he has the stick skills to take advantage of scoring chances.
The best skill Raddysh brings to the ice is probably his incredibly quick release. He has one of the best shots in the OHL:
Only one goal in the 3rd period and it was scored by Taylor Raddysh of the Soo Greyhounds. His 13th ties the game at 3. Game 1 of the OHL Championship is headed to overtime! pic.twitter.com/RC822LmLww— Lincoln Louttit (@LincolnCTV) May 4, 2018
He is a smart player that already has an NHL-caliber wrist shot. He plays a complete 200-foot game and is the kind of kid that knows his limitations and plays within them. The biggest problem Raddysh is going to have when making the leap to the next level is his skating.
Exceptional major-junior playmaker who has a plethora of skeptics regarding his NHL potential due to his relatively mediocre skating ability. -Dobber Prospects
In fairness to Raddysh, he has improved his skating ability - though he’s still got some work to do. For a kid with his size, he’s not the strongest on his skates. He’s also not anything close to a speedster out there on the ice. Raddysh isn’t slow, but he’s going to have to improve his acceleration and quickness if he’s going to fill out a role in Tampa’s top-6 down the road.
One thing Raddysh will definitely need to do is get stronger - as is the case with most prospects. He’s a lanky kid, and as he’s built now, it is going to be incredibly difficult for Raddysh to play in front of an NHL net the way he did in junior. A year or two in the AHL learning the pro game and maturing physically will do wonders for him.
In his own words, here is what Taylor Raddysh thought about Bolts training camp last fall:
Here is a look at how Taylor Raddysh performed this past season by various metrics. As you can seem, despite his drop in production from the 2016-17 season, he was still an unquestionably elite forward in the OHL.
He’s not ready for the NHL yet, but he’ll get there. The Lightning should give him a full year in the AHL with the Crunch. Let him play on the top line and get a ton of powerplay unit, build some confidence while proving that he can be an impact player at the professional level.
Raddysh is a prospect that has had quite a bit of hype built up around him thanks to an incredibly steep development curve. He’s a good player - and should be a good NHLer - but expectations should be tempered a little. Personally I think Boris Katchouk is the better prospect; that said, I think there is a very strong possibility that Raddysh finds himself in the top-9 for the Lighting for a very long time.
You know, unless there’s a trade for Erik Karlsson in the next few months...