Canucks Prospect Rewind: Aatu Räty had flashes of excellence but lacked consistency in Abbotsford
Photo credit:Abbotsford Canucks/ Instagram
By Faber3 months ago
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One of the hardest seasons to evaluate is the 2022-23 year that Aatu Räty had with the Canucks organization.
A major piece in the Bo Horvat trade, Räty got us excited as a prospect due to the combination of his final season in Liiga (2021-22) along with his willingness to play in the AHL make him an intriguing prospect.
Räty was acquired by the Canucks after scoring seven goals and adding eight assists in 27 games with the Bridgeport Islanders in the AHL as well as scoring two goals in 12 NHL games with the New York Islanders. Initially, there were plenty of struggles for the 20-year-old centre and it took him a while to get comfortable in the city of Abbotsford. Moving across the continent mid-season after making the jump to North American pro hockey is a tough ask and for context, imagine your brain at 20 — we know it was tough on Räty. In fact, we believe that the callup to the NHL in February had something to do with getting Räty to feel a bit more comfortable with the move. It’s simple fact that the NHL has more support than the AHL and that one week with an NHL organization likely helped Räty settle down after a hectic trade deadline deal.
Throughout all of his time with the Abbotsford Canucks, Räty was used as a centre.
<instert a loud-ass hallelujah!!!>
We saw him mostly used in a third-line role with Abbotsford and didn’t see much offence in his 28 games with the Abbotsford Canucks. Räty scored three goals and added 10 assists but our eye test tells us that he should have had a lot more points than he did over his time with Abbotsford.
Räty finished the season with a minor injury as was not in the final few playoff games with Abbotsford after scoring a huge game in game two of the second-round series against the Calgary Wranglers.
The biggest problem we saw with Räty was that he either made a very noticeable impact or was a non-factor in games this year — there was not much in between. We often made the trip out to Abbotsford games in hope of getting a good in-person viewing on Räty but the absent outings seemed to be more consistent than the very noticeable ones. We all want to see Räty be successful and expect him to be able to find more consistency in his game now that he knows he will be with this organization for the coming years.
Räty now knows his coach, support staff, and teammates. This is a big boost in terms of how a player develops. Räty knows what he is getting himself into next season and probably has time to get a nice little apartment near a golf course instead of living in a hotel next year.
We expected Räty to be a good playmaker and shooter, and he was at times this season. But what we didn’t fully understand about Räty at the time of the trade was that he is a great forechecker. Räty is quick with his stick and utilizes all of his 6’2″ frame. He played more physically than we were expecting and his faceoff skill seemed to look better at the end of the season than it did when he first became a Canuck.
We were all told that his skating seemed to be the biggest issue in his game and after watching him for 30 games this season, we’d have to agree. It’s not like he is slow but there seems to be a lack of explosiveness in his stride and if is able to add that to his game, he will be looked at as a tremendous NHL prospect.
The hope for next season is that Räty can lock down the second-line centre position and produce offensively with some talented AHL scorers. The ultimate second-line in Abbotsford in terms of prospect development would be something like Räty flanked by Danila Klimovich and Arshdeep Bains.
Having Klimovich and Räty together on an AHL creates a little bit of internal prospect competition as both players are very young in terms of AHL players and they were both highly touted second-round picks from the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. The two youngsters will certainly push each other next season but we hope to see these two find some chemistry together and begin to understand their strengths and build off of them. Each of Klimovich and Räty are bigger bodies — they are both 6’2″. If they can develop into bottom-six NHL scorers, we will be giving tons of praise to the Abbotsford Canucks and the Canucks’ development team.
We expect to see Räty at Canucks development camp and Young Stars this season. Young Stars in Penticton will be a great opportunity for Räty to showcase that he is the number one prospect in the Canucks’ system. We’re not fully sold that Räty is currently the Canucks’ top prospect but he certainly is in the top three.
His sophomore AHL season will tell us a lot more about how close he is to becoming an everyday NHLer.
As one of the rare centres in the system, we do expect to see Räty in the NHL as a bottom-six centre when an injury occurs at the NHL level. One thing we need to see next season is that Räty stays as a centre. There are a lot of whispers that Räty is more of a winger and we believe that any sort of drifting towards becoming a winger is something that should immediately be shut down. If the Canucks need to call up a player to play the wing for the NHL team, they shouldn’t even look at or speak of Räty.
This is one of the only centres in the prospect pool and he needs to develop his game purely as a centre.
Prediction for the 2023-24 season
41 games played, 13 goals and 21 assists in AHL.
Eight games played, one goal and one assist in NHL.
Eight games played, one goal and one assist in NHL.
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