After trading Nick Leddy to the Detroit Red Wings the Islanders received Richard Panik and a second-round pick in the 2021 draft in exchange. With that, there was an expectation that the Islanders would flip the pick to gain a player that would join Mathew Barzal on the top line. However, the Islanders used this pick to select Finnish center, Aatu Räty.
Räty, who was once pitched to be a first round pick, hasn’t really lit the lamp with Kärpät’s under 20 team and top squad of the SM-Liiga in the past two seasons. Through 79 games he produced 59 points, tallying 22 goals and 37 assists. Unfortunately, his production dipped, yet his sought-after ability still had him picked in the second round. Additionally, he had previously been a part of the Finnish World Juniors team in 2020 but was not invited back in 2021 as a result of a slow start with Kärpät which is a bit of a concern.
The Islanders are deep at the center position, and Räty doesn’t fill a need for next season. It could be some time before he’s in the NHL, but I’m not sure if he is the best fit for the Islanders, especially being their first pick of the draft. Last season, New York had trouble with consistency in their play. Räty matches the profile as an inconsistent player, and one wonders if he can develop into a skater who can find consistency in his play.
However, there is the possibility that Räty can flip the narrative. He was once projected to be a high draft pick and sought-after player in the draft, therefore you can conclude that he has a set skill set behind him that made him a dangerous aspect to the team that he was on. It’s up to the Islanders now to display patience, and develop Räty into an effective NHLer, whether it’s in a top-6 role or an everyday role player in the bottom-6.
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