U20 squads are already getting ready for the 2022 World Junior Championship tournament in Edmonton/Red Deer. Three of the top nations (US, Sweden, and Finland) took their first steps in testing their rosters with a showcase in Plymouth, Michigan. The New York Islanders had five participants at the showcase.
All eyes were on Finnish forward prospect Aatu Räty. The Islanders second-round pick at the 2021 draft was considered to have the potential to be a first overall pick, and the Islanders got him at 52. How did the young man who fell so far do at the showcase?
New York Islanders Aatu Räty dominates 2021 summer showcase
Well, it didn’t take long for Räty to have Islanders fans fawn over him. Hours after being selected at the draft Räty put up four goals (and missed a penalty shot). It was a dominating performance from a player that just fell some 40-50 spots.
His most noticeable goal on the first day was this breakaway that he buried for his third goal. The clip shows significant hockey IQ to know the play is breaking in his favor, serious skating skills to catch the puck while skating backward and still beat the oncoming defender who didn’t have to go from backward to forwards, it shows strength to hold off the defender, and then hands to put it through the goalie.
Again, that was hours after getting drafted by the Islanders. And his scoring didn’t stop. Over the next five games, Räty would add ten points (two goals and eight helpers). Over his final two games of the showcase, he’d scored a goal and five assists.
His 14 points led the showcase by four (linemate Roni Hirvonen finished second in scoring with ten points).
Räty fell at the draft because he didn’t feature for Finland at the 2021 WJC and because he had a poor year playing in the Liiga. Playing roughly 12:30 minutes a night for Karpat, Räty put up six points in 35 games. It was a tough year playing against men for Räty.
But he didn’t have any of the typical characteristics that follow a player that drops so far. He doesn’t have any character flaws. He doesn’t run his mouth. He isn’t confrontational. His biggest issue might be that he trains too hard.
Of course, Räty’s performance came against players of his age group. The next and most important test will come when Räty returns to Finland to play for Karpat in 2021-22.
It’s too early to say that the Islanders lucked into a blue-chip prospect (something they don’t have in the system) but so far so good for the Isles and their second-round pick.