By Kevin Fortier (@ksfortier)
Flyers fans are energized about the upcoming NHL draft. It still feels like a dream that they moved up from the 13th to the 2nd overall pick. It is a long shot, but another surprise gift could be under the tree for fans to open on draft day.
The Flyers recently added Erie Otters head coach Kris Knoblauch as an assistant coach to Dave Hakstol. Knoblauch could bring with him an additional prize for Flyers fans. OHL defenseman of the year, Darren Raddysh, played 4 years under Knoblauch in Erie. In fact, both Raddysh and Knoblauch began with Erie within 2 weeks of each other.
Could that relationship have an impact on where Raddysh chooses to begin his NHL career? It is certainly not unheard of that a player might choose to follow their coach to the professional level.
Rumors are already swirling that Raddysh is being sought after by both San Jose and Vancouver. In addition, his younger brother, Taylor, was drafted by Tampa Bay and the Lightning are in need of defense prospects.
Flyers Twitter fans got into the act recently with several Tweets going out about the possibility of Raddysh and Knoblauch being reunited in Philadelphia.
#Flyers are apparently in the mix for FA D-man Darren Raddysh.
Newly-hired Kris Knoblauch was Raddysh’s coach throughout his junior career. https://t.co/wopiYT38vS
— Flyers Prospects (@futureofphilly) June 11, 2017
**Credit Matt Mead Photography LLC**
Weight: 201 pounds
Team: Erie Otters
Hometown: Caledon, ON CAN
2017 Stats: Games: 62 Goals: 16 Assists: 65 Points: 81 +/-: +62
2016 Stats: Games: 66 Goals: 8 Assists: 32 Points: 40 +/-: +27
- 2016/17 OHL Champions
- 2016/17 OHL Defenseman of Year
- 2016/17 OHL Overage Player of Year
- 2016/17 OHL Most Points by Defenseman
- 2016/17 OHL Highest +/- by Defenseman
- 2016/17 CHL Memorial Cup All-Star Team
Raddysh excelled across the board in his final junior season. He has improved his game at all levels – becoming a very good puck moving offensive defenseman with some skating ability on top.
In 2016/17 Raddysh ended the season averaging 1.4 points per game, scoring 16 goals and adding 65 assists in 62 games – more than double his prior season’s point production. His 65 assists were second best among defensemen in the OHL and third best overall.
He led all defensemen in scoring and was second in the OHL with a plus/minus rating of plus 62.
Raddysh quickly became a solid two-way defenseman in the OHL. His lowest plus/minus score was plus 26, in his first year in juniors. He finished his junior career with a total plus/minus rating of plus 159 in 272 games over his CHL career.
He continued his strong play in the playoffs as a point-per-game player with 8 goals and 14 assists in 22 games. He also sustained his strong two-way game going plus-14 over that span.
As the quarterback of Erie’s top power play unit, Raddysh leveraged his crisp passing, accurate shot and on-ice instincts. He also played on the first penalty killing unit for Erie contributing to their success on both ends of the ice.
Erie’s power play has been either 1st or 2nd in the OHL all four years that Knoblauch and Raddysh were there.
Raddysh was tied for 4th in the OHL in PP assists and only offensive standout Alex Debrincat had more PP points than Raddysh for Erie. His transition skills added to his offensive abilities could make him a valuable addition to the Flyers second PP unit which struggled regularly this past season.
Raddysh helped the Erie Otters win the league’s regular-season title and the OHL championship. Erie reached the championship game of the MasterCard Memorial Cup, but fell a goal short in the end. Raddysh led all defensemen in the tournament and ended up tied for fourth in scoring with three goals and eight points in five games.
If Raddysh was to sign with the Flyers it would create a log jam on the blueline where the Flyers have amassed several young defensive prospects over the last 3-4 years. He does being something that the Flyers lack right now and that is balance being a right shooting defenseman. The only current RHD on the roster is Radko Gudas. Blue chip prospect Philippe Myers is a right shot, but he may be a year away.
Even with Myers, the Flyers could still use a player of the caliber of Raddysh on the right side of the ice. Landing Raddysh would also give GM Ron Hextall the flexibility to package one of his left-handed defensive prospects in an effort to trade for a scoring winger or other high end forward prospect, should the Flyers choose to go that route.
Signing Raddysh is a longshot, especially given the Flyers current crop of defensive prospects. The addition of Knoblauch might improve the odds slightly. Adding the right shooting offensive defenseman, free of charge, would certainly be another pleasant surprise for Flyers fans who are already excited heading into the off season festivities.