Faber’s Prospect Rankings #3: Aatu Räty’s skillset could easily translate to being a middle-six NHL centre
Photo credit:@abbotsfordcanucks, @sjry.fi, @makisarka.fi_sport, @mikkelinjukurit on IG
By Faber2 months ago
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Coming in at number three on our list is 20-year-old Finnish centre Aatu Räty.
After being acquired in the Bo Horvat trade last season, Räty jumped in with the Abbotsford Canucks of the AHL and even saw three games with the Vancouver Canucks. Prior to being trade, Räty played in 12 games with the New York Islanders and 27 games with their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.
Räty finished his first pro season in North America with nine goals and 18 assists in 52 AHL games while having two goals and one assist in 15 NHL games. The youngster worked his way into NHL games and will continue to develop in the AHL next season as he works to round out his game in preparation for becoming a full-time NHLer.
We don’t believe that Räty is far away from being an everyday NHL player but can see why many have pause about him being an everyday centre in the NHL.
There’s a lot to like about Räty as a prospect. He forechecks hard, has a great release on his wrist shot and handles the puck extremely well for a player his age. The knocks are easily spottable as well. Räty doesn’t have great quickness or agility but he seems to be a pretty strong straight-line skater.
We were pleasantly surprised by the grit and bite in Räty’s game from our viewings of him with Bridgeport as well as Abbotsford. Räty is very willing to go to the net and can often be found face-washing the opposition after the whistle.
This player was brought in to help with centre depth in the organization and he certainly does that.
Ceiling: Second-line centre. We would need to see a lot of development over the next 24 months to believe this can be possible but there’s enough of a sample size at such a young age to believe that it is a possibility. What Räty has done since being drafted 52 overall in the 2021 draft is nothing shy of impressive. He went back to Liiga after being drafted and led all U20 skaters with 41 points in 47 games. He’s already got 15 NHL games under his belt and he hasn’t looked too out of place in those games.
Floor: Fourth-line winger. If Räty were to just not improve at all over the remainder of his hockey career, we still see him as a capable fourth-line winger. He can kill penalties and contribute to the power play as well. The Canucks just need to continue to develop him as a centre with PK upside — that’s his best bet of making a big impact on an NHL team.
Production (and how): Räty had two goals and one assist in 15 NHL games while having nine goals and 18 assists in 52 AHL games. He was used on the power play in the AHL as saw some points come that way but was primarily scoring his goals at five-on-five.
Prediction (for the 2023-24 year): We see Räty being one of the top-three centres for Abbotsford next season. It will depend on how many of Sheldon Dries, Jack Studnicka and Max Sasson are down on the farm. It’s safe to say that Räty will be a middle-six centre next season in Abbotsford and we do expect to see him getting power play time as well. We see Räty playing in 5-20 NHL games next season as well so our statline prediction for him in the AHL next year will be something like 13 goals and 22 assists in 49 games.
ETA: Expect to see more NHL games for Räty this coming season but we expect him to push for an everyday NHL job during the 2024-25 season.
There’s a lot of potential in Räty’s game and we love that he is a centre as well. We want to make this clear that Räty is a very strong prospect and is not far from being in the NHL. There’s a lot to like about everything he’s done up to this point in his young career but we also have some worries from our in-person viewings of him out at the Abbotsford Centre.
When we go out to Abbotsford, we go for the games but we stay for the prospects (and Lully’s dogs). We are always focusing a lot of our attention on young players like Räty, Danila Klimovich, Linus Karlsson, Arturs Silovs and others.
We liked a lot of Räty’s shifts but there are times when we went out to Abbotsford and didn’t have many good things to say about Räty’s play. There are games where Räty has six shots on net and is the primary playmaker on a pair of scoring chances but there are also games where he is buried in his own zone all game and can’t seem to make a clean transition from the defensive zone through the neutral zone.
The Canucks’ development staff currently has some hype behind it with all the staff members that they have out in Abbotsford and developing Räty is one of their biggest asks. If Räty can develop into a solid third-line NHL centre by the 2024-25 season, it’s a massive win for the development staff and we like that Räty is learning directly from Henrik Sedin — a centre who didn’t have the quickest feet but was able to make a hall of fame career out of his playing time.
We’re not expecting Räty to be a hall of fame player but he can’t help but gain from being able to work with Henrik Sedin about how to utilize body positioning to cover for some of his skating deficiencies.
One positive part of Räty’s game that doesn’t get talked about a lot is his playmaking and hockey smarts. During our in-person viewings, we were able to key in more on how Räty works as a centre defensively and we rarely found him out of position. He also has the playmaking that we like from a centre. He didn’t necessarily show off his playmaking enough to us in our viewings before he came to Abbotsford but there were no worries about how he passes the puck in his short time as a Canuck.
Next year is a big one for Räty and if he begins to produce consistently, he may be consistently playing in the NHL earlier than we expect. We like the idea of Räty playing alongside Klimovich and Arshdeep Bains on a middle-six line next year. This trio has a chance to develop into an NHL third-line together and if they can build some chemistry in the AHL, it will do nothing but help them as the trio looks to move on to the NHL in the coming years.
After having 12 points in 25 AHL games, we expect to see Räty get close to being a point per game in the minors.
We just really need to see him stick at centre ice. That’s the most important thing as he develops. Räty gains a lot of value being in the middle compared to on the wing. If he can become consistent this season, he will push to be in the conversation as the Canucks’ top prospect.
There’s a lot to like in his young career but there’s still some hills to climb before Räty is an everyday NHLer — and more importantly, an everyday NHL centre.
We will be watching his season with a close eye as he works toward being consistent and building his defensive skill.
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