The NY Islanders are getting healthier. A plethora of injuries are finally starting to resolve themselves and as a result, there's less room on the roster. Following Wednesday's morning skate at UBS Arena, the Islanders announced they've reassigned Aatu Räty and Robin Salo to the AHL Bridgeport Islanders.
Salo was recalled to the Islanders on Dec.4th but didn't dress until the 9th. He played in seven games and tallied two assists over that span. Initially believed to grab a spot on the Islanders' blue line as a regular, Salo hasn't quite been able to stick, nor does head coach Lane Lambert show his trust in the 24-year-old defenseman, averaging just 9:36 of ice time per game.
Räty left a different impression on Lambert as opposed to Salo. Räty was called up tot he Islanders and made his NHL debut on Dec.23rd against the Florida Panthers, an early holiday gift for the 20-year-old rookie. The Finnish prospect also played in seven games, scoring two goals in that span but more impressively showing a solid defensive foundation to his game at hockey's highest level of competition.
"Lane Lambert says there's a lot of 'foundation' with Aatu Raty for future NHL success based off his initial run in NHL," Andrew Gross tweeted. "And that's because Raty already understands the defensive side of things. Coaches love working with that."
It was a good stint for Räty to get his feet wet with the varsity squad. He averaged 8:25 of ice time including some runs on the Islanders' second-unit power play. Räty's biggest impact on the scoresheet came on Jan. 3rd against the Vancouver Canucks. The Islanders were trailing 1-0 in the second period in what looked like another mediocre effort until Räty put the Islanders on the board that sparked a six-goal victory.
Part of Räty's demotion has to do with the fact that the Islanders can avoid burning a year of his contract with his entry-level slide. If a player signs their entry-level contract and is either 18 or 19 years old before September 15th of the signing year, and does not play 10 games in the NHL that season, their entry-level contract is extended by one year.
It's unfortunate because Räty likely showed enough that he can stick at the NHL level, but the good news is that Lambert and the Islanders recognize the NHL prowess in his game. He'll now report to the AHL Islanders where the hope is that he can take his NHL experience to the American league, build his confidence by dominating at that level and when his time to go back to the NHL comes, he never looks back.