After the descent of Aatu Räty's draft stock, he's proven doubters wrong time after time dating back to the 2021 Summer Showcase just hours after the NY Islanders drafted him in the second round, 52nd overall. It all started when Räty scored four goals in his first game of the Summer Showcase for Team Finland and then he went on to lead the tournament in points with 14, four more than the tournament's next leading scorer.
Fast forward the timeline to today, Räty has not finished making waves. You know how the story goes by now. After a brief start to the Liiga season with Oulun Kärpät, Räty was moved to play under former Islander Olli Jokinen, now head coach of the Mikkelin Jukurit. The move to play with Jukurit proved that Räty was still mostly the player he was when he was projected to go first overall in the 2021 NHL Draft with the belief that he could have at least been a top-10 pick. In fact, the PHNLe statistic ranks Räty as the 11th-best NHL prospect right now.
Räty will now represent Team Finland at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championships starting on Tuesday. The Finnish Islanders' prospect has already been seen centering Finland's first line, skating with fellow top prospects Roni Hirvonen and Joakim Kemell. According to The Hockey News's Ryan Kennedy, he believes that Räty is the game changer in the tournament that should see Finland sustain deep success:
"I feel like it’s probably Aatu Räty. I think he’s probably the guy that drives the bus if they’re going to have deep success."- Ryan Kennedy
Well, the betting odds support Kennedy's theory. According to Bovoda.lv, Räty has the second-best odds with a +800 to win the tournament's highest goal scorer behind Mason McTavish (+600) and is +700 to win the tournament's top point scorer, again behind only McTavish.
After dealing multiple first-round picks in the last four seasons, seeing the type of success Räty has sustained lessens the blow of missing out on first-round talent in so many consecutive years. Räty is now primed to lead Finland, regarded as one of the tournament's most talented teams, and the Islanders prospect just might be their best player.