We’ve talked plenty this summer about how the Blackhawks’ offensive lines will look completely different in October from April’s unit, thanks to a flurry of offseason moves from GM Kyle Davidson. With veteran acquisitions like Taylor Hall, Nick Foligno, Corey Perry and Ryan Donato, rookie star Connor Bedard won’t be the only new face on the ice this fall.
Though last season was pretty miserable for most Blackhawks fans, there were a few bright spots on a lineup without much talent. A few members of last year’s unit will be back with the team as they enter a new era. One of the most notable names on that list is 25-year-old Taylor Raddysh.
Though the talent being injected into this year’s lineup is significant, I still have Raddysh holding down a spot on the top line alongside some combination of Connor Bedard and Taylor Hal or Lukas Reichel. The young winger wasn’t the most prized acquisition when he was brought in, but the case can still be made for Raddysh as a top-line skater for Chicago this year.
Perhaps the most obvious case for Raddysh can be found in last season’s production. Although the Blackhawks weren’t the most fearsome group offensively, Raddysh proved to be one of the most productive players on the team on a nightly basis. He finished the season tied for the team lead in goals with 20, and his possession metrics were much better than the rest of his squad’s. Raddysh is a proven scorer who makes his line a dangerous one on every shift.
Plugging The Gap
In addition to his production, Raddysh fills a hole on the right side that doesn’t have much competition. We can pencil in Hall or Reichel as the top left winger, with the other sliding to the second line. With Philipp Kurashev hopefully slotting in as the second-line center, that leaves Raddysh and Andreas Athanasiou to battle for the right wing. The Blackhawks could go the younger route with higher upside without thinking twice.
If Raddysh can grab the top spot, he’ll be a great fit alongside Bedard and Hall. Throughout his career, he’s done a great job of rebounding pucks left in front of the net. If he’s paired with two players who look to be among the league’s best shooters, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to do just that. His skill set can help his line convert on more scoring chances, overwhelming opposing goaltenders with second-chance opportunities.
Finally, Raddysh proved last season that he is most productive when he’s playing on a line with extremely talented teammates. 5-on-5 data from Natural Stat Trick last season shows that Raddysh only really succeeds when he’s playing with top-tier scoring talent (like Jonathan Toews last year). He’s great at creating high-quality scoring chances for his teammates.
Due to a combination of his past production and fit on the team, Taylor Raddysh deserves a spot on his team’s top line this year. While Bedard and Hall or Reichel get all the attention from opposing defenses, Raddysh could help facilitate an offense that should show massive improvement this season.