When the Chicago Blackhawks hit the ice for the 2023-2024 season, all eyes will be on rookie sensation Connor Bedard. This attention comes with good reason. Not only is Bedard one of the best prospects this century, but he will also suit up for a Blackhawks club that does not feature many other “name-brand” talent on the roster. That being said, other members of the roster look poised to take a jump forward this year. Of all those players, Taylor Raddysh stands out as a young athlete poised to break out in 2023-2024.
Taylor Raddysh Profile
Taylor Raddysh played his first full season in Chicago last year after being a part of the trade that shipped Brandon Hagel to Tampa Bay. The Tampa Bay Lightning drafted Raddysh with the 58th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. After making the move to Chicago, the Caledon, Ontario native scored a team-leading 20 goals in 78 games in his first full season. Raddysh spent much of the season on a line with Jonathan Toews and Philipp Kurashev — the line combined for 243 chances created, the best of any combination of forwards on the team.
Raddysh accumulated a notable season in 2022-2023, leading the team in goals and producing 37 total points (good for fifth on the team). Now entering his age 26 season, the Blackhawks should expect an even more significant jump out of him.
Opportunity for the 2023-2024 Season
Why is Raddysh poised for a breakout year? In simplest terms, opportunity. With the addition of Taylor Hall, Connor Bedard already has one line-mate seemingly locked in. However, who will play on the top line’s right wing is potentially up for grabs. A veteran like Tyler Johnson may get an early crack, but Taylor Raddysh will undoubtedly have his opportunity. Hall is being brought in to shepherd Bedard; he can accomplish the same for the young and talented Raddysh. Raddysh’s 6-foot-3 200-pound frame also brings some size to the line. His and Hall’s size will give Bedard two large wingers to play with. Their combined stature should assuage some’s concern for Bedard’s size while he grows into the league. With Hall’s playmaking ability, Bedard’s dazzling skill, and Raddysh’s size and goal-scoring ability, the top line for the Blackhawks could be lethal.
At first glance, it may appear that Taylor Raddysh’s chance of breaking out hinges on whether he can secure the top-line role with Bedard and Hall. While this situation would be ideal, he still has plenty of opportunity to progress alone. Even if the winger finds himself on the second line, he has all the skills to break out. A second line of Raddysh, Andreas Athanasiou, and Tyler Johnson could still prove potent for the Blackhawks. Athanasiou also scored 20 goals last year, tying with Raddysh for the team lead.
Reason for Optimism
While much of the excitement for Raddysh’s 2023-2024 season hinges on who he may play with, there’s a lot of reason for optimism in general for the forward’s development. The right-winger will turn 26 this year, an age when many NHLers hit their prime. Additionally, Raddysh also boasts fairly impressive cursory metrics. Frankly, the Blackhawks were not a very talented team last year. Still, Taylor Raddysh managed to post a 53.7% Corsi-For (13.3 relative) and a 53.4% Fenwick-For (12.6 relative). Whichever possession metric you prefer, Raddysh posted a firm number, especially considering the Blackhawks poor season. His 98.5 PDO in all situations also dictates that the results could have been even better than they were.
The player has a nice set of tools and all the opportunity to make things happen. The Chicago Blackhawks may not be ready to make a big leap forward in results, but it should be an exciting year for the team. Much of the excitement will be centred on Connor Bedard, but a breakout season for Taylor Raddysh may also be in the cards.
Main Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports