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2020 Raw Charge Top 25 Under 25: #9 Taylor Raddysh

This is a make-or-break season for him as well.

Syracuse Crunch v Laval Rocket Photo by Stephane Dube /Getty Images

I feel like I need to preface this post by saying that I was and still remain a huge fan of Taylor Raddysh. There’s nothing I want more than to see him succeed in the NHL and with the Tampa Bay Lightning. However, the longer he continues to play in the AHL, the less confident I am of that happening, and I’ll explain why further below.

Last year, Raw Charge had Raddysh ranked sixth overall in our Top 25 Under 25 ranking. This year, the 22-year old has slipped to ninth. While the majority of our writers had Raddysh ranked in and around 8-12, a couple of us dropped him significantly, and one had him as low as 17. (I personally ranked Raddysh ninth.) And it looks like the readers shared similar thoughts as we did at the site.

Raddysh wrapped up his second season of professional hockey with 19 goals and 35 points in 62 games in Syracuse. Though he upped his goals scored by one compared to his first season with the Crunch, he was producing at a significantly lower rate this year. Raddysh was putting up about 0.66 points per game two seasons ago, which dropped to 0.56 this past season.

His production rate dropped with more ice time, specifically an increase of power play time by almost a full minute, a higher shooting percentage, and a larger number of shots on goal.

Raddysh DY+3 vs. DY+4 Statistics

Stat DY+3 (2018-19) DY+4 (2019-20) Increase/Decrease
Stat DY+3 (2018-19) DY+4 (2019-20) Increase/Decrease
Avg TOI 12:42 13:48 Increase by 1:06
Avg PP TOI 1:48 2:39 Increase by 0:51
% of SOG 66% 58% Decrease by 8%
Points/GP 0.66 0.56 Decrease by 0.1

On top of that, Raddysh was also winning slightly less amount of puck battles this past season (43%, versus 46% from 2018-19). The drop is concerning, but so is the percentage in both seasons — you would ideally like to see a player winning above 50% of the puck battles he engages in. For comparison, Boris Katchouk won about 52% of his puck battles in both of the last two seasons.

What I noticed watching his games from this past season was just how much trouble Raddysh had handling the puck. Since the hallmark of Raddysh’s game is being an efficient distributor, that raised an immediate red flag for me. And his point totals reflected that, too: Raddysh’s assists dropped significantly, from 28 in his AHL rookie season to just 16 last year.

When he’s alone and has space, Raddysh is a confident puck carrier. If there’s someone backchecking or draped on top of him, it’s almost as if he panics and makes reactionary plays to get rid of the puck. For the most part, he’s fine with passing the puck — it’s when he has to receive it that there are issues.

As far as actually distributing the puck goes, Raddysh’s quick snap passes find teammates easily and he has fairly good accuracy in the offensive zone. He doesn’t always have to be the net front presence and he can find open teammates in the slot or by the hash marks. Raddysh’s wrist shot has a heavy release, but it does take him time to unload it. His one-timers and slapshots are far more effective at actually hitting the net.

Raddysh’s skating remains what it was in junior — his stride is clunky and his acceleration is faulty. He is great on the forecheck, willing to use his body to knock players around and free up the puck, but he doesn’t always arrive to battles on time because of his slower acceleration. It also means that when he does carry the puck, opponents are able to catch up to him and can adjust to defend him better.

Raddysh has yet to eclipse the 20-goal margin in the AHL, something I think needs to happen before he gets a chance in the NHL. He’s never going to be able to put up those blistering junior numbers in the AHL, but I’d like to at least see him hit the 50-point mark at some point. His offensive instincts are undeniable, but Raddysh’s mechanics that leave me questioning his ceiling as an NHL player.

I do believe Raddysh has a higher offensive ceiling than his counterpart Katchouk, but it’s troubling to see Raddysh producing less primary points, and to also see his production drop overall this past season despite playing more. I also think Katchouk’s defensive game is stronger than Raddysh’s right now, which could be the deciding factor between the two of them.

If and when the NHL and AHL seasons do start, I think Raddysh is in the running to receive a call-up this year. This has to be the year the Lightning decide on what they have with him. They need to figure out whether or not Raddysh can thrive with the pace of NHL play, or if he tops out as an AHL player within the organization and needs to be dealt elsewhere. Like Katchouk, Raddysh is an RFA after this season, and he needs to prove that he deserves a shot. I’m hopeful he can do it. But time is running out to see if he can.

Statistics from Elite Prospects and InStat Hockey.