Aatu Räty‘s name has been on the tip of New York Islanders fan’s lips since he was drafted 52nd overall at the 2021 NHL Draft. The former top-tier prospect (once seen as a first overall pick), fell to the Isles in the second round and they wasted no time in nabbing him. And that has had fans excited for some time now.
The Islanders prospect pool isn’t particularly strong when compared to the other teams in the league. So having the chance to add what could a top-tier player like Räty is exciting.
On Tuesday night, during the Islanders second game of the preseason, Räty centered a line with Anthony Beauvillier and Kyle Palmieri. The 18-year-old had an important role to play and he did well with it. Including showing fans that he’s got some serious puck skills.
New York Islanders Aatu Räty shows off serious skill
There was no production for the young man, though he had a glorious chance to score the game-winner in the final minutes of regulation. But Räty still wowed fans with his play. One particular play from his second game of the preseason stands out.
And it’s this zone entry where Räty turns Keith Yandle inside out before shrugging off Max Willman, who’s listed as 6’0 and 195lbs like he didn’t exist.
That play would shortly turn into an Adam Pelech goal by the way. This is the kind of stuff you like to see from a kid that 27 NHL teams passed at the 2021 draft. The talent is clearly there with Räty. That’s a top tier play executed in real-time in-game against a veteran NHL defender.
Just a few shifts before this, Räty was guilty of making a risky play in the O-zone (a between-the-legs behind-the-back pass to…himself) that backfired horribly with the Flyers stripping him of the puck and scoring their first goal of the game seconds later.
His error was a teaching moment that Räty will surely take to heart. But he didn’t turtle and turn ultra-conservative after his error. He didn’t keep his flashy play in a bottle to attone for his previous mistake.
Pulling out this flashy play so soon after having one backfire shows the confidence this kid has. Which was honestly one of the knocks against him during the 2021 draft.
It’s important to understand that Räty is only 18-years-old and is not making the NHL squad. He’s not quite ready yet. But he isn’t far off either. Barry Trotz has spent the entirety of camp praising his “North American” game and how the Islanders scouts did a fantastic job getting Räty.
Aatu Räty might be on his way back to Finland shortly, and won’t be back with the Islanders until the end of Kärpät’s 2021 season. But it’s clear by his play in the pre-season that this kid is a lot closer than some thought he was at the 2021 NHL draft.