With less than a week until the trade deadline, the New York Rangers have shown some signs of life. The team sent Peter Holland to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Darren Raddysh. This might seem like a spritz compared to the gigantic splash that is a potential Mats Zuccarello or Kevin Hayes trade, but at least this is something to look into.
No, it is nothing more than just a minor league deal, but the Rangers acquire another youngster with untapped potential for a player who wasn’t exactly the right fit into the current rebuild plans. The most pressing difference between the two is the fact that Holland has NHL experience while Raddysh has yet to skate in a professional contest, but that doesn’t mean it was a lop-sided trade.
2-Way Defender: What Raddysh Brings to the Ice
When Raddysh signed with the Blackhawks in 2017, it was because the roster was overflowing with left-handed defensemen, leaving a hole for him to fill. He was an eye-catching prospect who was coming off his fifth season in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), where he earned multiple honors including the Max Kaminsky Trophy (Most Outstanding Defenseman) and Leo Lalond Trophy (Overage Player of the Year).
But he was kept in the American Hockey League (AHL), where he skated in 120 total games over two seasons (2016-17 and 2017-18) with the Rockford IceHogs. He’s accumulated 48 points (13 goals, 35 assists), along with a plus-16 rating and 46 penalty minutes.
Raddysh, who turns 23 in nine days, has played in 54 games so far with the IceHogs this season and has already surpassed his AHL career-highs in several categories, including goals (eight), assists (18) and points (26). The Canadian led all defensemen on his team in points and has posted a plus-six rating along with 20 penalty minutes, as well.
All decent production out of an aspiring NHL-er right, so why’d the Blackhawks let him go? With booming talents in Adam Boqvist, Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell all joining the Chicago prospect pool in the last handful of drafts, Raddysh fell off the radar. Which I guess is the only negative you can find in his journey to his first professional appearance.
He’s known to have enhanced vision on the ice, mastering stretch passes during his time in the OHL and flaunting them in his play ever since. From what I’ve watched, he’s a play starter and sends tremendous passes up ice to ignite rushes. And although his skating ability hasn’t improved much, his confidence has only grown in his puck play.
Although Raddysh’s skillset will be useful, his addition is intentional with the current Hartford Wolf Pack roster consisting of all left-handed defensemen. He’ll fill a gaping hole for a right-handed player at the blue line for at least the rest of this season and the next, as Raddysh is under contract through 2020 before becoming a restricted free agent.
There is opportunity in Raddysh and maybe a change of scenery can help speed along his development process. He became an inessential part of Chicago, but now could prove useful for a team like the Rangers, who are now willing to take the time to nurture prospects. The Rangers may be willing to give Raddysh his first NHL appearance, and that must mean that Jeff Gorton and David Quinn see some potential.
Dynamic Holland Couldn’t Waste Away in Minor Leagues
The reality for Peter Holland is that he is a 28-year-old center who is set to become a restricted free agent this July. The Anaheim Ducks’ 2009 first-round pick (15th overall) has been so good to the Wolf Pack this season, but the Wolf Pack hasn’t reciprocated the favor. He posted nearly 50 points (49) in 52 games, registering 20 goals and 29 assists this season.
But with playoffs out of the picture for Hartford, letting valuable trade bait like Holland be successful for no particular gain was pointless. So it only made sense to try to get someone for him that might turn into something that fits a lot better. Holland is set to report to the IceHogs immediately.
Holland has 266 career games in the NHL under his belt, accumulating 85 points (36 goals, 49 assists) with the Ducks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Arizona Coyotes and the Rangers. Through 52 games with the Wolf Pack this season, the 6-foot-2 center had 49 points in 20 goals and 29 assists. His current contract runs through the end of this season, holding an average annual value of $675,000.
While with the Maple Leafs in 2014-15, Holland put forth his best season with 25 points (11 goals,14 assists) in 62 games, along with an 11.8 shooting percentage. In 23 games for the Blueshirts last season under Alain Vigneault, averaging around 14:16 of ice time, Holland slotted in as the team’s main fourth-line center in replacement of Boo Nieves.
He managed to put up one goal and three assists in his short stint on Broadway. While also proving to be an asset on the penalty kill, Holland earned the trust of the late Rangers coaching staff.
Along with being over 6-feet tall, Holland weighs in at over 200 pounds to complete his large frame. His shape highlights his presence in front of the net and throws off competitors when they realize he has soft hands. He’s a much more developed player for the Blackhawks to work with than what they had in Raddysh. The exchange fits what both organizations are currently looking for.
A senior sports journalism major at the University of Massachusetts with bylines in the New York Post, Stan Fischler’s newsletter The Fischler Report and the Daily Hampshire Gazette in Northampton, MA.