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Taylor Raddysh frustrated by lack of goals as he ponders future with Blackhawks

Taylor Raddysh frustrated by lack of goals as he ponders future with Blackhawks originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

Last season, Taylor Raddysh was my breakout pick for the Chicago Blackhawks, and he backed me up by setting a career-high in goals (20), assists (17) and points (37).

This season, it has been the exact opposite, particularly offensively. He has only five goals and 14 points total through 70 games, which isn't the kind of production he expects from himself.

"It's frustrating when things don't go your way," Raddysh told NBC Sports Chicago. "Obviously it's in the back of your mind every day. You almost get too involved in it sometimes and at times you try to flush it away and do the best you can and that's all you can really do.

"I feel like throughout the year I've taken steps in areas of my game, and maybe offensively it would be nice to produce more."

While his five goals are not acceptable, Raddysh hasn't gotten much puck luck, either. His expected goals, according to Money Puck, are 13.2. He has five actual goals.

His -8.2 expected goals to actual goals ratio ranks 11th among players in the unlucky department. A regression is likely coming, but it probably won't be this season because we're almost at the finish line.

"I honestly didn't even know that," he said. "I didn't really know about stuff like that. But yeah, I feel like the chances have been there, whether it's bearing down a little more and when you get a puck in a good area or sometimes it is lucky. You put a shot on net that squeaks through, and all you can really do is give yourself the best chance to score.

"Goalies are good and defenses are good, and they're going to make it hard on you. They are going to make saves at times where you think you've got a goal and you've just got to keep trying to find those efforts. It obviously sucks hearing a stat like that but at the end of the day, you've just got to keep working towards it."

On the flip side, it does provide some sort of validation that Raddysh's process is there, he just hasn't capitalized on his chances.

"I feel like lots of times this year I've had chances, whether it was 2-on-1s or backdoors or things like that, there are different areas that the puck does go in," Raddysh said. "And maybe last year at times when I had those chances the puck did go in. It's frustrating for me when I'm in that spot and you're trying to bear down and whether something happens or it's on myself to be able to put it in, I guess it works both ways with hearing that.

"Obviously you go out there and try my best and try to be able to contribute and things like that offensively. This year hasn't really gone that way, and when things like that happen, you've got to try to find other ways to be involved with the team and help the team win."

At the end of last season, Raddysh approached Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson about wanting to play on the penalty kill. He wanted to become a more diverse player and provide value to the team outside of scoring goals.

To his credit, Raddysh has been solid in that role. Only Jason Dickinson (156:18) has logged more minutes on the penalty kill among Blackhawks forwards than Raddysh (109:19), who logged only 12 shorthanded seconds last season, per Natural Stat Trick.

"I feel like I've taken a pretty big step that way," Raddysh said. "I've got to keep building off that and hopefully keep working towards the things that I've had success with in the past and build off that."

On Wednesday at practice, Raddysh was skating as the extra forward, which indicates he could be a healthy scratch on Saturday vs. Dallas. He missed five games with a groin injury in December and January but hasn't been a scratch all season.

"I think his game in Philadelphia, I thought that line was very good and he was part of that," Richardson said. "I think being responsible. Unfortunately it’s not going in for him right now but the biggest thing when that happens is to be really good defensively and not let anything go in on the other side against you. You keep yourself even until you get to that opportunity to pop one in and you’re a plus."

It's a tough year for Raddysh to have a down season, too. He's a pending restricted free agent and he probably would have liked to strengthen his case for the Blackhawks to extend him a qualifying offer.

But his future in Chicago feels uncertain.

"I wouldn't say throughout the full season, but I think it's always in people's minds when you're up for a contract," Raddysh said. "But now that we're getting towards the end of the year, it's something you think about. You want to be able to help the team out as much as you can to show them what you can do so they want you back or wherever it may be.

"It obviously is in the back of my head throughout the last little bit here and it's something you've just got to keep working for and just try not to think about it too much."

If it were up to him, Raddysh said he would "love to be back" with the Blackhawks.

"I've loved being here," Raddysh said. "It's been awesome for the two and half years I've been here so far. I feel like I've showed them different areas of my game, whether it was offense or from the start of the season this year just being in a penalty kill role.

"I feel like I've showed them two different ways. I've just got to be able to blend that into one and become a full, complete player, and hopefully I can continue to do that and be able to mesh those together."

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