Taylor Raddysh hopes shooting more will help him continue smooth transition with Blackhawks
Raddysh has cooled off somewhat from his red-hot start but still entered Thursday with a solid five points in nine games since the trade with the Lightning.
Taylor Raddysh’s first week with the Blackhawks couldn’t have gone much better.
Acquired from the Lightning in the trade for Brandon Hagel, Raddysh jumped from a fourth-line role in Tampa, Florida, to a second-line role in Chicago and adjusted quickly.
After a quiet debut against the Wild, he notched a combined four points and 10 shots on goal in his next three games (against the Jets, Ducks and Kings), making an immediate impact on the ice.
Off the ice, his pre-existing chemistry with Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome — his linemates with the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League in 2016-17 — as well as with Boris Katchouk, who came with him in the trade, helped him acclimate socially. Interim coach Derek King later would say Raddysh ‘‘looked comfortable right off the bat.’’
‘‘It has honestly been an easy transition,’’ Raddysh, 24, said Thursday. ‘‘Guys have been so welcoming for me, and [it has] been a lot of fun. Coming to a team, you never know what to expect, but it has been pretty easy. I’m really enjoying it so far.’’
Raddysh has come back to earth lately, however. He entered the Hawks’ game Thursday against the Kraken with only one point and eight shots on goal his last five games.
‘‘We gave [Raddysh] too much right off the bat, and he faded a little bit,’’ King said Thursday. ‘‘[He and Katchouk] got a little sloppy the last couple of games. They looked tired.
‘‘I think they’re refreshed now, so my message to [Raddysh] today, when I talked to him, was to keep it simple, shoot the puck. He has a great shot, so why pass the puck? Obviously, there’s a time and place to do it, but you have to be a little selfish once in a while.’’
Notably, Raddysh’s shooting rate has regressed and is back in line with his season average. He has taken 10.9 shots per 60 even-strength minutes with the Hawks, compared with 10.5 with the Lightning.
And although his sizable increase in playing time — 16 minutes, 14 seconds with the Hawks, compared with 11:03 with the Lightning — still gives him more chances to make an impact, he hopes to grow into a true second-line-caliber forward.
‘‘I’ve just got to be more of a complete player,’’ Raddysh said. ‘‘It’s something I’m trying to do [on] both ends of the ice. In Tampa, I was more of a defensive guy, where they needed me; here, there’s a bigger role.
‘‘I’ve just got to keep shooting. That’s one of my biggest strengths. I’m getting the chances and maybe just looking too much for other guys. I have shots that are there, and I’ve just got to start taking them. Guys that I’ve been playing with have been able to find me well; I’ve just got to start putting more pucks on net.’’
Raddysh so far has occupied the ‘‘bumper’’ role on the first power-play unit, which he said he has played before but not in the NHL. Whether coincidentally or not — the Hawks’ power-play metrics aren’t really better with Raddysh than without him — the power play entered play Thursday a solid 7-for-23 (30.4%) since his arrival.
After a hectic initial move, Raddysh finally retrieved the rest of his belongings when the Hawks visited Tampa last week. Under contract through 2024 with an affordable $758,333 salary-cap hit, he can settle down in Chicago with the knowledge there’s a good chance he’ll stick through the rebuild.
‘‘It’s a fresh start here, so [I have] to come in and just keep proving myself every day,’’ he said.