It's been long stated that the NY Islanders don't have a "grade-A" prospect in their pipeline. For the last few seasons, the Islanders' prospect pool continually finds themselves ranked toward the low end of the 32 NHL teams often with a bunch of question marks regarding the players they drafted. One of those players in question is center Aatu Räty.
Räty had an excellent 2021-22 playing at almost a point-per-game pace with Mikkelin Jukurit scoring 40 points in 41 games. The 19-year-old forward followed his overseas performance by heading to North America after being eliminated from the Liiga playoffs to play for the Bridgeport Islanders. Räty totaled a goal and three assists in four playoff games for the B-Isles, leaving a good impression on Bridgeport GM Chris Lamoriello:
"He had a very good training camp. And I think that start of, you know, getting to know him and feeling good about where he was at as far as the young player, and I think his experience this year in Finland really Jukurit in what they did with that team, getting into the playoffs. He was another one who was in position of playing playoff hockey before the regular season ended."- Bridgeport GM Chris Lamoriello
After not being named to Finland's World Junior roster in December 2021, Räty forced his way onto the roster when play resumed this August and solidified himself as their first-line center. The Islanders prospect finished the tournament tied fourth overall in points with 10, scoring three goals and adding seven assists. Räty and Finland met fellow Isles prospect William Dufour and Canada in the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship, claiming silver while losing to Canada in overtime.
Before the tournament, Räty told the NY Post that he want to compete for a spot on the NHL roster when heads to training camp in September:
"Obviously everybody wants to play in the show, but I feel like I can do my part and they’ll tell me where to play. I have my complete trust that they’ll put me in a situation that is good for me."- Aatu Räty
Now he'll head back home to Finland following the World Junior tournament to collect his things before he heads to Long Island to attend training camp. Where Räty permanently drops his belongings will be up to his performance in training camp and if he can force his way onto the NHL roster.
During Monday's media availability, when Lamoriello was asked about Räty's chances to make the varsity Islanders, the Islanders GM stated that their top prospect is "ticketed" for the AHL to play with Bridgeport, but if he has a strong showing in camp, "he'll have an opportunity."
The door is open for Räty to force his way onto the roster. It may be slim, but Lamoriello rarely cracks the door for his young prospects. That says a lot about Räty's development last season and how the organization views him moving forward. If not straight out of training camp, it appears it might not be long before Räty could make his NHL debut. The Islanders are set to open their main training camp on September 21st.