Prior to their game tonight with the New Jersey Devils, the Tampa Bay Lightning recalled defenseman Darren Raddysh and forward Cole Koepke from the Syracuse Crunch and placed them on the taxi squad. With Ondrej Palat and Jan Rutta returning from injury it’s likely these moves were precautionary in case one of them aren’t able to go following the pre-game skate. With today’s morning skate optional, the pre-game warm-up will be the best test to see if they are ready for a full game.
Raddysh has been through this process a few times having been called up earlier in the season. He has appeared in two games for the Lightning, making his NHL debut on December 30th against the Florida Panthers. He is a naturally right-side defenseman who could pop in on the third pairing if Rutta isn’t able to go tonight. In Syracuse Raddysh has posted three assists in 24 games while playing about 24 minutes a game.
The recall of Koepke is a bit more surprising considering this is his first full season in professional hockey. He had a small taste last year after his college career ended. Following his three seasons at University of Minnesota-Duluth he signed a two-year contract with the Lightning and promptly scored twice in nine games for the Crunch last season. After his year got off to a rocky start due to a small injury picked up in the prospect camp, he’s come on strong as a rookie in the AHL. In 28 games he’s put up 20 points (9 goals, 11 assists) and worked his way up to the top line.
Throughout the season he’s averaged 15:31 of ice time and his .68 points per game currently ranks 4th on the team behind Alex Barre-Boulet, Charles Hudon, and Gabriel Dumont. In the AHL his 9 goals has him tied for 11th in rookie skaters while his 20 points is tied for 18th. After a bit of a dry spell he’s put up 3 points (2 goals, 1 assist) in the last three games.
Koepke placed 14th in our most recent Top 25 Under 25 rankings with a pretty big divide among the readers and writers. He’s a decent-sized kid at 6’1” and 172 lbs. that skates well and has a really heavy and deceptive shot. The Minnesota native isn’t shy about getting in front of the net either and if he adds a little weight, his game should play well in the NHL.
A sixth-round pick in the 2018 draft, Koepke is another prospect in the mold of Boris Katcouk, Ross Colton, and Taylor Raddysh that most likely isn’t going to be a top-end star in the NHL, but will be a valuable contributor to a team. If/when he does stick in the league (probably a year or two away) it’ll be yet another testament to the organization’s ability to find talent deep in the draft.
It’s unlikely that he suits up tonight, but he will get a small taste of what NHL life is like and get to participate in a few practices before heading back to Syracuse. It’s a nice reward for a strong start to the season and breaks up the routine a bit during a long AHL year. For some players, getting a small glimpse of what it’s like at the next level can spur them on to finish the season strong.
Full Press Release:
LIGHTNING RECALL F COLE KOEPKE, D DARREN RADDYSH FROM SYRACUSE
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled forward Cole Koepke and defenseman Darren Raddysh from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League to the taxi squad, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced.
Koepke,6-foot-1, 172 pounds, has skated in 28 games for the Crunch this season, recording nine goals and 20 points, ranking third on Syracuse for goals and scoring. Koepke has skated in 37 career AHL games, all with the Crunch over the last two seasons, posting 11 goals and 23 points. The 23-year-old Koepke was selected by the Lightning in the sixth round (183rd overall) of the 2018 NHL Draft. He is looking to make his NHL debut.
Raddysh, 25, has appeared in two games for the Lightning this season, recording two shots. He made his NHL debut December 30 at Florida and logged 14:57 time on ice. The Toronto native has skated in 24 games for Syracuse this season, tallying three assists and ranking tied for fifth among Crunch defensemen for assists. Raddysh, 6-foot, 201 pounds, has 252 games of AHL experience, notching 22 goals and 98 points over six seasons. He set AHL career highs in 2019-20 for assists (22) and points (28) while serving as an assistant captain for the Hartford Wolf Pack. The older brother of current Lightning forward Taylor Raddysh, Darren Raddysh was acquired by the Lightning via free agency on July 28, 2021.