Because of the trade with the Devils that brought Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac to Long Island just before the trading deadline this past season, the Islanders did not have a first-round pick Friday night in the 2021 NHL Draft. It was on day two of the draft on Saturday when the Islanders finally made a choice and that was in the second round with the 52nd overall selection.
When the Islanders were on the clock, they could not believe that 18-year-old Finnish forward Aatu Raty was still on the board and they grabbed him.
“Yes, we were surprised that he was where he was at,” said Islanders President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello. “We’re extremely pleased with that pick.”
Raty (pronounced “Rah-Too”) was the third ranked European Skater on the list of prospects put out by NHL Central Scouting. At 6’2” and 185 pounds, the talented center was coming off of a tough season for Karpat of Finland’s Liga as he had just 3 goals and 3 assists for 6 points in 35 games. Those number caused Raty to fall in the draft, but the Islanders also looked at the 22 goals and 27 assists for 59 points that Raty put up in 79 games for Karpat’s under-20 team before he made the jump to Karpat’s big team.
Raty was thrilled to be selected by a team that has been in the NHL’s final four the last two seasons.
“I’m super happy and excited to be drafted by the Islanders and be the first pick for the team,” said the native of Oulu, Finland. “Super excited to be part of such a great organization. I think they’ve been super good for the past two seasons having deep playoff runs with maybe not like the biggest superstars but just having a super solid good defensive team.”
The selection of Raty looked even better for the Islanders just hours after they picked him. Playing for Finland in the World Junior Summer Showcase in Michigan, Raty scored four goals in Finland’s 5-2 win over Sweden.
“That made our scouts feel pretty good,” said Lamoriello.
Raty has exceptional hockey sense, playmaking ability and stick-handling but the question now is just when he will bring his talents over from Finland to North American and specifically either Long Island or to the Islanders’ AHL team in Bridgeport. Raty has one year left on his contract with Karpat, but he could join the Islanders for training camp. If he makes the team, he can stay on Long Island but the more likely scenario is that he goes back to Finland to honor his contract.
“I haven’t talked with the Islanders yet but I think I’ll be playing in Europe but we’ll see,” said Raty.
It’s not likely, but there is a scenario where Raty could be a Bridgeport Islander. If he doesn’t make the NHL team and Karpat refuses to take him back, then the Islanders could assign Raty to Bridgeport. He could also come to North America once his season in Finland comes to an end.
The Islanders may have found the steal of the NHL Draft with Aatu Raty. Even if he doesn’t make the Islanders and goes back to Finland, he is going to be a player that Islanders Country should pay close attention to this coming season. When he eventually does come over to North America, he will bring with him a skillset that already has the Islanders organization excited.