It didn't take long for Willie Raskob to learn about the business of professional hockey.
Just one game into the regular season, the rookie defenseman was traded from the Worcester Railers to the Quad-City Mallards. For someone who had played on just two teams in his amateur career — Shattuck-Saint Mary's and the University of Minnesota-Duluth — the prospect of playing for two different teams in a week was a little daunting.
"It was a pretty big shock at first, didn't know what to think," he said. "I would never have expected to get traded, that's not something I had anywhere in my thoughts at all."
After he was traded to the Mallards on Oct. 17, Raskob drove the nearly 1,100 miles from Massachusetts to Moline, thinking about the prospect of having to once again try and settle into a new environment, jell with new teammates, learn from a new coach.
By the time he arrived in the Quad-Cities two days later, he was ready to go.
"I tried to get myself in the right mindset, which is a trade is a trade; it's not always a bad thing," he said. "You've got to come in here with the right mentality and show them the type of player you are because if they wanted you, you've got to produce."
The 22-year-old Raskob has done just that since joining the Mallards, tallying seven assists in nine games. He leads the Mallards in assists and has helped solidify the team's power play. The Mallards started the season 0-for-10 on the power play but since the addition of Raskob are 7-for-37 and have scored at least once on the man advantage in five of the nine games he's played.
"Coming into the league and pro hockey in general I was always told to be confident in the type of player you are," Raskob said. "So I went to Worcester with the right mentality and tried to play the game the way I know how to play it, and then when I came here ... just be confident in the player you are and what you bring to the game."
Raskob was on Mallards head coach Phil Axtell's radar all summer. The 22-year-old was coming off a successful collegiate career with the Bulldogs, where he scored 10 goals and added 49 assists in his career, capped by a run to the NCAA Frozen Four and a runner-up finish in the national championship game.
But Raskob was invited to the New York Islanders development camp in the summer and after skating with New York and its AHL affiliate Bridgeport, it made sense for him to sign with Worcester, the Islanders' ECHL affiliate in its first year as a franchise.
When Raskob was made available by the Railers, Axtell made sure he didn't miss out this time, grabbing the defenseman in exchange for financial considerations.
"As soon as I saw the email, I jumped on it right away," he said. "Somebody said they were interested but weren't sure they wanted him, and I said I wanted him right away. I think my text message was 'I wanted him this summer, and I still do.'"
Raskob quickly learned to embrace the decision. He's much closer to his hometown of Hastings, Minnesota, and as a result, his parents will be in town this weekend as the Mallards play Tulsa and Kansas City. He's familiar with this part of the country and has acclimated well with his new teammates. And his play on the ice speaks for itself.
Everything seems to have worked out.
"He's offensive-minded. He's been liable in the D-zone and playing a lot of minutes for a young guy. I like everything about him, happy we got him," Axtell said. "I think he's only going to get better. It's a lot different than college so I think he's adjusting and adapting well."
Raskob now knows there's no way to know what the future holds in this business, so he's focused on the present and playing his best hockey to help the Mallards win.
"I'm excited about what I've done, but I think I've got more, and I think we as a team have more to give, too," he said. "Hopefully everyone starts getting that success and as a team we find the success, too."