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Raddysh hoping to channel Point for Lightning

Forward prospect wants to make jump from juniors to NHL this season after breakthrough with Erie

by Corey Long / Correspondent

TAMPA -- Tampa Bay Lightning forward prospect Taylor Raddysh is hoping to build on a breakout 2016-17 season in the Ontario Hockey League with a strong NHL training camp in September.

Raddysh, selected by the Lightning in the second round (No. 58) of the 2016 NHL Draft, had 109 points (42 goals, 67 assists) in 58 games for Erie. He had 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists) in 22 OHL playoff games to help the Otters win the J. Ross Robertson Cup and advance to the Memorial Cup, where they lost to Windsor in the final. 

"[The playoff run was] pretty cool," Raddysh said at Lightning development camp. "We weren't expected to do anything like what we did. But we stuck together and we played our game. Things worked out well. It stinks we didn't win the Memorial Cup, but I had a great experience overall."

Lightning director of player development Stacy Roest said he saw Raddysh's confidence grow as the season progressed and the 19-year-old forward has become more decisive with the puck.

"The year he had was unbelievable," Roest said. "Yeah, he had a good team and good linemates, but most nights Taylor was the one driving that train. It was good for him, he had a lot of responsibilities, played big playoff games. He was one of their leaders during the playoffs. He made Team Canada, which we probably didn't expect. Next year he's hopefully one of the go-to-guys on Team Canada."

Raddysh played for Canada at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship and scored four goals against Latvia, becoming the fourth Canada player in history to have a four-goal game at the tournament. He had six points (five goals, one assists) in seven games to help Canada reach the final, where it lost to the United States 5-4 in a shootout.

"That was a great experience for me to be around so many great players and compete against them," Raddysh said. "It was definitely something I was able to take back to juniors for the rest of the season."

It's likely that Raddysh, who turns 20 on Feb. 18, will head back to Erie for another season but he is looking at training camp as a good opportunity to turn heads.

Raddysh has used Lightning forward Brayden Point as a reminder that anything can happen in training camp. Point made Tampa Bay's roster out of juniors and spent much of last season as a top-six forward, finishing with 40 points (18 goals, 22 assists) in 68 games.

"I want to show them that I want to be there and I'm ready to compete in every situation," Raddysh said. "My skating has improved and I am ready to play my best hockey."

Raddysh (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) is continuing to grow and said he likes to play a "big man's" game on the ice. He has modeled his style of play after Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf and coincidentally Raddysh said he was compared to Lightning forward Alex Killorn during the NHL Scouting Combine last year.

"I can put the puck in the net and also wear down other top guys with my size and my strength," Raddysh said. "A big, strong guy but I can skate for being a taller guy."

There were concerns about Raddysh's skating, but he was able to spend additional time with skating coach Barb Underhill during camp in July. Roest said that as Raddysh's skating improves, it will match the way he thinks with his hands.

Lightning director of amateur scouting Al Murray said he wasn't surprised by Raddysh's scoring prowess last season and believes it should continue to improve as his overall game matures.

"Taylor could always score," Murray said. "Taylor is a natural goal-scorer with a great release and a big body. He just looked more confident all the time this year.

"Whether it was (Lightning prospect) Anthony Cirelli or (Arizona Coyotes prospect) Dylan Strome as his center, he could find openings, get himself free and then get his shot away. He looks very confident and he's going back for another year of juniors. So it's exciting to think of where he may be a year from now."

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