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Darren Raddysh signs 1-year AHL contract with Rockford

The 2017 OHL defenseman of the year joins the Blackhawks’ organization.

Erie Otters v Mississauga Steelheads Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images

Undrafted free agent Darren Raddysh agreed to terms on a one-year AHL contract with the Rockford IceHogs, the team announced Tuesday. With Rockford being the affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, this brings Raddysh into their orbit, although not on an NHL contract for the time being.

Raddysh, 21, had a breakout 2016-17 performance in his fourth full season with the OHL’s Erie Otters by earning the league’s defenseman of the year honors. He set career-highs across the board with 16 goals and 65 assists in 62 games, shattering his old high of 48 points in 2014-15 with a staggering 81 points last season.

The strong performance also continued in the postseason, where Raddysh recorded 22 points in 22 games during Erie’s lengthy run. He recorded eight points in five games during the Memorial Cup.

That led to several NHL teams pursuing Raddysh this spring, which makes the fact that he’s signed to an AHL contract now rather interesting. Did the Blackhawks make the IceHogs do this because they’re currently in a roster freeze due to the expansion draft? It’s possible, although it’s not confirmed at this time.

For the Blackhawks, it’s another flier on an intriguing, affordable defenseman just like the signing of Jan Rutta. Raddysh is another right-handed defenseman, too, which signals that the team is clearly trying to address that while having several big-named lefties already on the roster. It also reinforces that Trevor van Riemsdyk, a righty, is likely in his final full day as a member of the Blackhawks with the expansion draft Wednesday.