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Could Darren Raddysh help the Maple Leafs blueline?

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The Erie Otters right handed defenseman is a free agent once his season is over

Aaron Bell / OHL Images

The Toronto Maple Leafs need some help on defensive depth and the Erie Otters have one of the most coveted things a team could want on it’s depth chart: A right handed defenseman.

Darren Raddysh has been patrolling the Erie Otters blueline since 2013, when he spent the season on three teams - Toronto Marlboroughs (GTHL, minor midget AAA), Georgetown Raiders (OJHL, Jr.A) and the Erie Otters (OHL, Major Junior). Raddysh has been a solid defender for the Otters and quickly worked his way up into the Otters top pairing. In most of his time in the OHL, he was good for just over half a point per game, but this season his offense exploded, scoring 16 goals and adding 65 assists for 81 points, doubling last season’s 40 points. This is what we would want to see from an overage player in the OHL, he is defending and playing against kids younger and less developed than himself.

2012-13 Toronto Marlboros Midget AAA GTHL 19 2 1 3 16
Georgetown Raiders OJHL 7 0 2 2 0
Erie Otters OHL 24 0 2 2 2 -12
2013-14 Erie Otters OHL 60 3 10 13 27 26
2014-15 Erie Otters OHL 60 14 34 48 38 32
2015-16 Erie Otters A OHL 66 8 32 40 80 27
2016-17 Erie Otters A OHL 62 16 65 81 63 62

This year was one of acknowledgement for Raddysh, he was named Top Offensive Defenseman in the OHL coaches poll, named Defenseman of the month twice this season, and was awarded the Max Kaminsky Trophy as OHL defenseman of the year, as well as the Leo Lalonde Memorial Trophy as overage player of the year. This standout year has been capped off with a second trip to the OHL Championship Series, which the Otters lead 3-1 over the Mississauga Steelheads. In his first time there in 2015 the Otters lost to the Oshawa Generals.

Canucks Army recently did a statistical breakdown of Raddysh on their site, and to get some more insight on him as a player, I spoke with Victor Fernandes of & Erie Times-News about Darren Raddysh:

In your view, how is Darren overall as a player in the Otters organization?

You’ve seen him grow a lot over the past two-three season, he’s now the Otters top guy, he’s logging 26-30 minutes a game. He plays every facet of the game. He’s developed into an extremely well rounded player. He’s a great skater now, he’s got a great shot, a heavy shot from the point.

He was passed over in his draft year, what do you think could have contributed to that?

To be honest, his worst year was his NHL draft year. He started off real strong as a 17 year old, but tailed off near the end and was a healthy scratch a bit. He turned his game around the following year, and (not being drafted) may have been to his benefit, because now he’s not negotiating with just one team, he’s talking to a handful of teams, the Maple Leafs would for sure be interested in him, there’s been a lot of talk in the Vancouver Canucks, he’s going to have his pick now. Not being drafted motivated him to become a better hockey player all around.

Was there anything particular about him that year that contributed to his being scratched?

For defenseman it takes them a little longer to develop, I think he hit a wall near the end of the year. He was on a veteran team as well, that had more guys ahead of him, so he was the odd man out. There wasn’t anything off the ice, you could see he wasn’t playing well. He had some stuff to work on, and I think (getting passed over) motivated him. He went from a 13 point guy, to a 50 point guy, and this year he’s an 80 point guy.

How has his overage season gone for him?

He’s the best defenseman in the league, he’s broken every defensive record for the Otters, he’s going down with Chris Campoli as the best defenseman in Otters history. Coach Knoblauch has no problem putting him out there in any situation, he’s the quarterback on the power play, he’s the anchor on the penalty kill, he can skate with the top forwards in the league, and he can play a physical style if he needs to.

When he gets signed, what can teams expect from Darren?

He’s got excellent vision, if you look at the Warren Foegele overtime goal in game seven vs London, he doesn’t score that goal if Raddysh doesn’t split two defenders, look up and put that puck into space - not onto Foegele’s stick - where Foegele can handle it. He had the mind to put it out in front, so Foegele can catch it in stride. Not many people, to be honest, in Otters history, Connor McDavid, Alex DeBrincat, and Darren Raddysh are the ones who could make that pass.

How is he as a member/leader on the team, off the ice?

He can be a bit of a mystery, he’s a reserved kid. He can be vocal in the room, and on the ice, but he can be reserved if he doesn’t know you all that well, but tends to open up as he gets to know people.

I saw a side of him a few weeks ago, I don’t think many people have seen outside the locker room and his family. He’s developed a relationship over the past two or three seasons with a five year old id in Erie who had gotten into the habit - it started when he was about two and a half years old - he’d go down to the rail and give the players high fives as they came out for the game. Darren came over and asked him his name, and they struck up a real relationship. Normally he’s very reserved with the media, but when I asked him about that, a smile came across his face and he really opened up.

Is there anything he stills needs to work on if a team brings him in, or is more of a case of adjusting to not being the big fish in a small pond that he is in the OHL?

Yeah, that goes for anyone moving leagues. Coming in as an undrafted free agent, he’ll have to prove himself all over again. Sometimes, you’ll watch a junior level game, especially when they get to be a 20 year old, it’s hard to get a true grasp of how good a player really is until you see him against men. He’s got a big body, so that will be going for him, he’s not a great skater, but he is an above average skater. I think he’s more than good enough at this stage, and you know if he gets connected with the right team, and right organization he’s going to get better. [Like the Leafs and Barb Underhill?] He’s going to get bigger and stronger, and overall more well rounded. He’s been to San Jose Sharks camp, they’ve got a glimpse of him. Like he did when coming back after not being drafted, he’ll just have to prove himself all over again.

Darren Raddysh seems like the type of player who could move into an AHL team and make a big impact right away. He’s a season or two of development away from talk of an NHL debut, but he would be a huge asset for any team’s depth.


Should the Maple Leafs sign Darren Raddysh?

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