Aatu Räty was projected to be the next big superstar. After an exceptional 2020 World Juniors performance, many felt that he could be the number one pick overall for the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. However, Räty was unable to find his feet when put in the Finnish Professional League. In addition, regardless of his excellent play in the previous year, he was left off of the 2021 roster for the World Juniors. This turbulent change has caused Aatu Räty to be one big question mark for the future.
Aatu Räty’s Capabilities
There’s a reason why many speculated Aatu Räty would go on to be a NHL Superstar. The Finnish Center recorded 17 goals and 31 points in 41 games, during his rookie season with the top Finnish under-20 league. In the 2021 World Junior Summer Showcase he scored 4 goals in one game, just hours after the New York Islanders drafted him.
Räty is a strong player with a lot of potential. He’s a big body on the ice with the capability to win one-on-one battles along the boards. The center is a strong play-maker. He’s able to find passes and shots from just about anywhere in the offensive zone. At 6-foot-2, Räty is physically prepared to enter a mature league even at his young age.
Doubts for Räty’s future
The skepticism surrounding Aatu’s possible success is widely spread around draft experts. When placed in the Finnish men’s league, the 181 pound center finished his season with 3 goals and 6 points in 35 games. The massive decline in performance from his precious seasons seemed to threaten his chances of being a first round draft pick in 2021. While his stick work is admired, Räty caused many mistakes that resulted in turnovers.
It should be noted that it’s possible the stress of being a number one prospect as a teenager impacted his play. Mika Backman, Aatu’s agent, stated that Raty was losing his joy for the game. It’s likely the loss of passion contributed to the significant drop in his performance.
The Return of Räty
Regardless of his unsteady path, the 18 year old signed his first NHL contract with the New York Islanders. He was selected 52nd overall on July 17, 2021. While many believe that draft pick was a risk, general manager Lou Lamoriello said that the Islanders were “extremely pleased with this pick.”
The contract with New York could be the fresh start the young player needs. After an explosion of offense the day he was drafted by the Islanders, Raty is finally regaining his feet. The Islanders are constantly looking for strong players to raise their offensive power. Aatu Räty has the ability to develop and become an elite hockey player. Therefore, he may be a key puzzle piece in the New York Organization. He’s already proved that he is capable of being a staple member on the ice. With experience and discipline, Aatu Räty could become the player everyone expected him to be.