Two of the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championships top teams face off tonight featuring two of the NY Islanders' top prospects. Aatu Räty and William Dufour are skating into their fourth matchup of the tournament tonight when Finland takes on Canada. Each team is 3-0 thus far and are favorites to win the tournament.
Both Räty and Dufour were not named to their respective teams when back in December 2021 before the tournament was postponed due to covid. Dufour told The Toronto Star how hard he took being cut from Team Canada in his first tryout:
"I worked so hard the last four or five months. I never gave up ... When I got cut at camp, I was just beside myself. I was unhappy with my camp. I had two bad scrimmage games. To receive the call (this summer) from Hockey Canada, I was just happy and I accepted it right away."- William Dufour
You know how the story goes for Dufour from there. The Quebec Islanders prospect drafted in the fifth round of the 2020 NHL Draft went on to have a historic season, breaking records in the QMJHL, capturing the CHL Memorial Cup, and vaulting his value from long-shot prospect to legitimate probable NHL talent. After receiving accolade after accolade, Dufour capped off his season by taking advantage of his invite from Team Canada claiming a spot on the team.
"We won, so I’m recognized as a champion. But now there’s something new in front of us. I’m ready for it."- William Dufour
Dufour has been skating on Canada's third line alongside Montreal Canadians prospect Joshua Roy and and Ottawa Senators prospect Ridly Greig. Dufour has one goal, four points in three games thus far in the tournament.
Räty tells Jatkoaika how he has taken notice of how well Dufour has played in every facet of the 2021-22 season, including his last three games for Canada:
" I have never seen him play live like that before. I hope to come to the training camp in the fall. He's a good-looking player."- Aatu Räty
Facing their biggest test yet, Räty knows that Finland needs to play a full 60 minutes, especially after observing their first three games of the tournament:
"These are all such different games that certain situations are automatically played better when it's Canada. The game picture will be smoother than today. That kind of solidity and clarity is still being sought in the game. There can't be any such falling asleep that you have to be sharper tomorrow."- Aatu Räty
Räty is having a strong tournament thus far, scoring three goals and eight points, good for second overall in the tournament. The Finnish prospect hasn't exactly received the respect he's earned solidifying himself as a top NHL prospect once again, however, Islander fans have pegged him as "untradeable." A strong tournament thus far and a solid performance against Canada should leave no questions regarding his value moving forward.
Finland and Räty take on Canada and Dufour tonight at 6 PM eastern standard time. The matchup can be viewed on NHL Network.