Hockey is a game of confidence. It's why New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz doesn't just toss his rookies to the wolves of the NHL. He lets them build that confidence with cushy deployments or having them watch. (agree with his approach or not that's what he's doing.)
Confidence plays a big part in the success a player has on the year. Starting the season with confidence is a huge deal. Look at Anthony Beauvillier's 2019-20 season.
Islanders: Moving WJC could be massive for Isles prospect
In Beau's opening 20 games of the 19-20 season, he put up eight goals and 16 points. He rode that production to a career year where he put up 18 goals and 39 points in 69 games, a pace of 22 goals and 47 points.
Beau spoke about his big year and how it all started with a confidence boost in the pre-season. Before the year started, Trotz told Beau his role on the team would be increased. Getting more time, specifically on the PK.
Starting the year with confidence is massive for players. The reason I write this is due to the change in date for the 2022 World Junior Championships. The tournament was canceled back in December but got the go-ahead for August of 2022.
Aatu Räty could very well be the only Islanders representative at the tournament. He was the only one who was going to represent the Isles in December but had to pull out after catching COVID just before the designated departure date from Finland to Edmonton.
Räty is in the final year of his Liiga contract (signed with Kärpät but currently on loan to fellow Liiga side Jukurit). It's expected he'll make the switch to North America for the 2022-23 season.
He's having an incredible year with Jukurit. In 41 games he's up to 38 points. Include the six games he played with Kärpät before the loan he's got 39 points in 47 games. At 19 years old. That production puts him in the top 20 for scoring. In a professional men's league.
But before he makes the jump to North America, he'll have a chance to play at the World Juniors. Finland will enter the tournament as one of the top teams with a good chance to medal. Räty will play a big part in that if they do as Finland's no.1 center.
Medaling just before heading to training camp would be a massive boost for Räty. Remember the boost Beauvillier got from just a bit more ice time? A medal would have the same effect if not greater.
Räty will probably stay with Bridgeport no matter what he does at Islanders training camp, but it might jump him a few spots on the depth chart if he has yet another impressive camp. As Räty begins his career in North America getting off on the right foot would be key. Having a good World Junior after a massive bounce-back season will allow him to do that.