Islanders: Three prospects with eyes on NHL spots

Nashville Predators v New York Islanders
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Aatu Raty
New York Islanders v Philadelphia Flyers / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

Aatu Räty

Why he deserves a look
Aatu Räty is without question, the best player in the Islanders prospect pool. No matter how you look at it. If you're using analytics Räty's NHLe (NHL expected) was well above any other prospect in the pool. If you use an eye test, Räty's game was better than any other. He was the top guy and there was no one else even close to the Islanders 2021 second-round pick.

His incredible year under the tutelage of former NHLer (and Liiga 2022 coach of the year) Olli Jokinen with Finnish side Jukurit opened a number of eyes. He went from a long-shot at the draft to a blue-chip in a single season. And by that merit alone he's probably going to get a shot to prove himself at the NHL level.

It's probably only going to be that nine-game sample the Isles can give him without burning a year of his ELC. But look, that's much more than we thought would happen when he was drafted 52nd overall. And if Räty can show off in those nine games, he might just make it stick.

Why he might not get it
He plays center. The center position is set for the Islanders. From Mathew Barzal on line one to Casey Cizikas on line four and then Brock Nelson and Jean-Gabriel Pageau between them. Again, the Islanders are set down the middle.

Sure, the Islanders could always play Räty on the wing, but that's not the key to his game. Räty is a center, playing him on the wing isn't a good way to get the best out of him.

He's also playing for Lou Lamoriello. Lou is of the mind that there is no such thing as bringing up a prospect late, but there is such a thing as bringing one up early. So we might just see Räty play a full year with the Bridgeport Islanders regardless of how strong his training camp might be and who he outplays.