It could've been avoided, there were alternative options in Bridgeport, but the New York Islanders elected to play Aatu Räty in his 10th NHL game versus the Ottawa Senators, burning the first year of his three-year entry-level contract he signed as an 18-year-old in August 2021, a month after he was selected in the second round (52nd overall) by the Islanders in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.
The way the NHL works is that if a player signs his entry-level contract (ECL) at 18 or 19 years old before September 15th and does not play 10 games during that NHL season, their entry level contract is extended by one year. That's what happened in 2021 and what could've happened again this season since Raty was 19 when the season started, turning 20 on November 14th.
Raty will now be a restricted free agent after the 2024-25 season.
Earlier this month, we anticipated that time was almost up on Raty's rookie-season cameo, expecting that the organization wanted to avoid the 20-year-old center playing in 10 games. After all, his call-up from Bridgeport was out of necessity following a series of injuries to the Islanders' forward group. When the team got healthier, Raty was sent back to Bridgeport after playing seven NHL games and scoring two goals while averaging 8:25 of ice time a night.
However, when it was announced Cal Clutterbuck would be out indefinitely, and with Hudson Fasching remaining out of the lineup with a lower-body injury, Raty was recalled once again from Bridgeport on Jan. 21. Entering Wednesday's game in Ottawa, Raty had two goals while averaging 8:38 TOI. The organization believes that having Raty playing in the NHL gives the struggling team the best chance to win. If that's the case, we'll watch to see if his ice-time starts to increase.