On Wednesday, New York Islanders prospect Aatu Räty's (pronounced: Ah-t-u R-ah-t-u) Liiga season came to an end. In a 1-0 Game 7 loss in the second round of the Liiga playoffs, Räty's team was eliminated.
During the regular season, Räty helped power Jukurit to the top of the Liiga table with 40 points in 41 games. Räty missed some time attending Isles training camp in September and then starting the year with Kärpät before being loaned/traded to Jukurit.
Combine that hyper-productive trade/loan to Jukurit that saw Räty go from an extra to a top-line center with his incredible display at the WJSS during the 2021 draft (he scored 14 points in 6 games and dominated the competition), Räty's stock has skyrocketed.
Räty is easily the top prospect in the Islanders system and now that his season is over the obvious question is: "when does he come stateside?"
New York Islanders: What's next for Aatu Räty?
With the season over Räty no longer has any contractual obligations to stay in Finland, the Islanders are free to bring him to North America. Remember, Räty signed a three-year ELC with the Isles in the offseason.
Will they bring him over? And if so how soon can we expect him?
There's no doubt the Islanders will bring him over. Isles management and their player development team like their top-end European prospects - like Räty - to get acclimated to the North American game ASAP. That's why they brought over Simon Holmstrom immediately after being drafted in the first round of the 2019 draft.
OK. So how soon? Best guess right now is no earlier than a week. That's based on how quickly fellow Finn and 2021 second-round pick Samuel Helenius went from JYP to the AHL. JYP's final Liiga game was on March 22 and Helenius was officially added to Ontario Reign's roster (LA's AHL affiliate) on March 29.
That could have Räty in Bridgeport just in time to play the final four games of the regular season.
Can it be later? Of course. I'm sure Räty is excited to get his North American hockey career started but there are logistics at play here. A work visa comes to mind as something that could take time. JYP wasn't about to make the playoffs so the LA Kings and Samuel Helenius had time to potentially sort that out ahead of time.
That wasn't the case for Aatu. Jukurit finish with the second best record in the Liiga. Exiting in the second round was a bit of a surprise.
There's also the case of the World Championships that start on May 13. While Räty is not currently part of the Finnish squad, there's a chance he could get a call up now that he's available. There's also a summer World Junior Championship to play this August after the December-January tournament was canceled.
So, what's next? Certainly joining up with the Islanders. When? That's a good question. At the earliest a week from now but it could easily go later.