The Blackhawks landed another major name on Tuesday, having agreed to terms with undrafted free agent defenseman Darren Raddysh on a one-year AHL contract. He will report to the Rockford IceHogs, where he will get a chance to prove himself in hopes of signing an NHL deal with the big club.
Raddysh, 21, was named the OHL's top defenseman after scoring 16 goals and 65 assists for 81 points in 62 regular-season games for the Erie Otters, where he was teammates with top Blackhawks prospect Alex DeBrincat.
Raddysh, who's 6-foot, 200 pounds and possesses a right-handed shot, also registered eight goals and 14 assists in 22 playoff games, and led all defenseman with three goals, five assists and eight points during the Memorial Cup.
He compiled 41 goals and 143 assists for 184 points across 272 games during his five-year OHL career, and is the Otters' all-time leader in assists and points.
It's a huge signing for the Blackhawks organization, who continue to stockpile prospects and young blue line depth, which is important considering the Blackhawks are also likely to lose Trevor van Riemsdyk in the expansion draft and are not expected to re-sign veteran Johnny Oduya, and possibly Brian Campbell, too.
The NHL and NHL Players' Association worked diligently into the late hours on Tuesday and reportedly made significant progress as the two sides look to come to an overall agreement on the protocols and safety measures for Phase 3 and 4, transition rules and a Collective Bargaining Agreement extension.
Nothing is official until the entire deal is ratified — the voting could take place Friday or Saturday — but, barring any last-minute breakdowns, Edmonton and Toronto are expected to be named the two hub cities for the league's 24-team Return to Play plan, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie. Chicago was among the four finalists from a field that started with 10 candidates.
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Vegas was a clear frontrunner from the beginning because of its appealing and tight bubble environment, but the NHL and NHLPA were forced to shift its attention elsewhere after an alarming spike in COVID-19 cases.
It was originally believed that the league would put each conference in opposite regions to eliminate any sort of competitive advantage, but that no longer appears to be the case. The Western Conference is expected to play in Edmonton while the Eastern Conference will go to Toronto, which means the Blackhawks will head to Edmonton if or when hockey officially returns.
Both hub cities will host exhibition games, the qualifying round and Rounds 1 and 2 of the playoffs, but only one of them will host the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final. It's unclear which city will host the latter.
When the NHL's Return To Play plan and 24-team playoff format were originally being hashed out, there was some hope that the Blackhawks could receive some much-needed defensive depth from Ian Mitchell. But that may not be the case.
Chicago could use all the help they can get in their potential best-of-5 play-in series against the Oilers under the league's format.
Mitchell, 21, was drafted by the Hawks in the second round (No. 57 overall) of the 2017 NHL Draft. He spent the past three seasons at the University of Denver, captaining the Pioneers this past year and setting a career high in goals (10) and points (32) through 36 games.
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The promising defenseman signed a three-year entry-level contract with Chicago in April after the NHL paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 11.
Wednesday morning, TSN's Bob McKenzie reported players in a similar boat to Mitchell who signed during the pause, as well as unsigned draft picks, are not expected to be eligible if and when the NHL resumes to finish the 2019-20 season.