Aatu Raty was one of the most interesting players heading into the NHL Draft.
Two years ago, the Finn was ranked in the Top 10. Some had him higher. However, coming out of the pandemic, Aatu Raty started to drop.
The players’ passion wasn’t there, and it showed in his numbers. Teams and scouts were worried about that, and his year in Liiga wasn’t great; Six points in 31 games and no points in three playoff games. It was against men, but it was reinforcing a trending down process.
I watched him intently when he was in the 2021 World Junior Championship. If I was going to drop him, I needed to have a reason and some data. He didn’t light it up with three points in seven games. On my list, from the first version to the third, he fell from eight to 19th. But I kept him there. This tournament showed me there was still something there worth gambling on.
A few things I saw with Aatu Raty throughout the years were a pro slap shot and a sliding wrist shot that is slick, and he changes the angle on it to fool goalies and give himself that extra space needed to give himself a chance to score.
I tweeted when the Islanders made the selection:
— sportsology (@sportsology) July 24, 2021
Did the Islanders get great value at 52nd overall, they sure did. Knowing that second-round picks stand a decent chance of making it, to get a guy like this in this draft, at this slot is beating the odds already in my book.
At the recent World Junior Summer Showcase Raty was good on the rush. He was playing good puck possession hockey in the corners. He was dangerous as always around the net and had 14 points in the six-game tournament. He missed a penalty shot, but he did connect on six goals; one of them was a power-play goal.
So what’s the projection on Raty. In my book, this prospect has to be a top-nine player. There’s a chance he could play on the second line if he can round out his game a bit more. I think the Islanders will give him the time he needs overseas and then have him play in the AHL in the next year or two.
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Raty will play in another World Junior Championship, and that’s great for any players’ development. He could be one of the better scorers for Finland, and that’s exciting for Islanders’ fans.
Keep an eye on this player. You can see that he has a renewed passion for the game and that’s music to my ears. This kid has always had the talent but there are so many other variables in becoming an NHLer. Raty is around 6-2, 181 pounds now and I can see some more muscle being added to his frame and that will help him when he parks in front of the net.
True centers are hard to come by in any draft, and I believe the Islanders may have gotten themselves one. Time will tell.
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