Aatu Räty has clearly become the Islanders' No.1 prospect and has outplayed his draft status as a second-round pick, 52nd overall at the 2021 NHL Draft. Overseas playing in the Liiga, after six games in the regular season Oulun Kärpät sent Räty to Mikkelin Jukurit in a trade that worked out better than most had anticipated. In 41 games with Jukurit, Räty tallied 40 points (13 goals, 27 assists). He had just one point in six games with Kärpät
Jukurit made their way to the playoffs but were shortly eliminated after seven games. Räty's playoff performance can be best described as a learning experience, tallying just two assists and 34 PIMs. After elimination, Räty made his way to North America to play for the Bridgeport Islanders. He played in the Jr. Islanders' final two regular-season games before heading into his second playoff atmosphere in a matter of weeks. It was a much better playoff performance for Räty in the AHL playoffs as opposed to his Liiga showing. In six games, Räty tallied four points (one goal, three assists). Räty proved to be a difference-maker for Bridgeport, scoring an overtime goal and clinching Bridgeport's first playoff win since 2003.
A brief, yet impressive showcasing for Räty drew high praise from Bridgeport's head coach, Brent Thompson:
"I think just the ability to make that adjustment as quick as he did, the sky’s the limit for this kid."- Brent Thompson
Räty impressed even former head coach Barry Trotz in his first NHL training camp which is saying a lot for a coach who depends heavily on his veterans. Heading into his second training camp, he will fight to claim a spot on the varsity Islanders roster, attempting to overcome the odds of a pretty crowded group of forwards.
"Quite mature. Has lots of game. Reminds me of a Zach Parise-type player, has a real good motor. What a great pick by our scouts."- Barry Trotz