Aatu Räty, the New York Islanders second-round pick from 2021, suited up in his first game for new club Jukurit. And, well if you didn’t see the result, just know that he had one hell of an outing. I went over his stat line in a recent article.
But after the game, Räty’s new coach, former New York Islanders player Olli Jokinen spoke quite highly of the young prospect, about why (he thinks) Räty fell at the draft, and how Jukurit is going to do their best to develop him.
New York Islanders prospect gets healthy praise from coach
The quotes come courtesy of Finnish outlet Ilta-Sanomat. Keep in mind that these quotes are translated using Google Translate, and as I’ve discovered it’s not exactly perfect when it comes to translating Finnish. So I’ve enlisted the help of Tiia Honkamaa to get it just right.
On the opportunity presented to Aatu with Jukurit and his North American style of play:
"In the case of Aatu, he now has a real opportunity to play. He’s a really good player who’s well-suited from day one of our style of [play]. He has a terrible [eagerness] to develop. It’s great to be able to coach such a player.He is a super talented boy who plays [a two-way] game. The style of player we’ve been looking for all season in the [middle]. He plays in a North American way, ie he goes to the goal and is able to perform his defense duties."
That last quote mimics what Barry Trotz had said during Islanders camp. Räty already plays a North American game and has some top-end talent to complement that game. It won’t be long before he leaves Finland.
The fact that he’s already signed to an ELC makes that abundantly clear. Räty is the only Islanders prospect signed to an NHL contract that isn’t in North America.
About his draft and falling to the second round:
"By nature, he is an easy-to-train boy. He is [very] smart. He listens and wants to [learn] new stuff all the time. Really determined, and professional at a young age. The values of life are in everyday condition. [Jokinen] sees that this boy was not talked about [unecessarily] before, that he could have been the number one [pick]."
We all wondered what happened for Räty to fall from first overall consideration in 2019 to middle of the second round come the actual draft in 2021. A lot has been made about the weight of expectations being placed on him and the pressures that went along with it. Jokinen basically confirms that was a factor here.
Why going to Jukurit is a good move for Aatu Räty and why playing for Jokinen himself is good for the Islanders prospect:
"We are trying to do everything here to be able to take the next step in the right direction in his development and at the same time help us succeed.As a young person, I have gone through various difficulties. After good periods, it hasn’t gone so well, and I had to [find] my own place. I believe I can help Aatu through my own experience."
Along with Mikko Koivu coaching him with the Finnish National Team Räty will have daily instructions from Jokinen who has 750 points in 1,231 NHL games for ten different NHL teams. That’s some world-class education for a young promising center looking to make it to the NHL ASAP.