Recapping Aatu Räty’s debut with the Vancouver Canucks
Photo credit:© Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
By Noah Strang1 month ago
Aatu Räty made his Vancouver Canucks debut against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night. The prospect acquired in the Bo Horvat trade could be the make-or-break factor in how that deal is looked back upon in ten years. If Räty develops into a top-six player, the return will look good, but if he doesn’t make that progression, the Canucks might look like they got ripped off.
After playing eight games with the baby Canucks in Abbotsford, Räty was handed a surprise call-up and got to make his debut with the big club against the Blues. He already has 12 NHL games under his belt that he played with the New York Islanders earlier this year, scoring two goals during the process.
Against the Blues, he played on a line with Sheldon Dries and Vasily Podkolzin. Despite the game going to overtime, Räty only got to play 7:37, the lowest amount of any skater on either team. Head coach Rick Tocchet spoke about this post game.
“In all fairness, there were stretches when I couldn’t get him out there — penalty kill or power play — and he’s sitting there for six minutes,” Tocchet said. “I know there’s a lot there and it’s my job to develop him. It’s competition. I like players being comfortable and not comfortable.”
While Räty didn’t get a huge chance to make a first impression, there was enough of a sample size to get an idea of how he might fit at the NHL level. Here’s everything you need to know about how he performed in his first game with the Canucks.
The eye test
While Räty didn’t make a huge impact during the game on Thursday night, there were a few encouraging signs. He did have some sequences where he showed some good hockey IQ, drifting into the right areas of the ice to positively affect the play. It’s clear that he’s an intelligent player.
Räty also showed his size, throwing his body around. He was third on the team in hits taken despite not playing much at all as he was grinding away for the puck. He’s definitely a player that could develop into a physical presence down the middle.
Räty also won two of the three faceoffs he took. As a potential middle-six centre, being able to win faceoffs is a great skill to have. For the young player to win a few in his first game in Vancouver is a positive worth mentioning.
One of the largest concerns with Räty and his transition to becoming an NHL player is his skating. He does have a bit of an awkward stride that means he’s not the most explosive player on the ice. That was evident a few times last night when Räty was going up against NHL-quality athletes. However, that is something that can hopefully be worked on and something that several Canucks players have improved in recent history, the largest example being his trade counterpart Bo Horvat.
Overall, while Räty looked solid, it would’ve been nice to see some more of that high-end skill we know he has. Finding out how to display that at the NHL level, along with getting more ice time, will be key moving forward.
What the numbers say
The Canucks dominated the Blues at even strength last night. There wasn’t a single skater that was on the ice for more shots against than for, as Jordan Binnington was forced to stop chance after chance. This helps make many of Räty’s advanced numbers look quite solid.
The truth is that not a whole lot happened while Räty was on the ice. He didn’t manage a single shot himself and the Canucks and Blues combined for a grand total of 0.21 expected goals during his 7:47 of play.
Räty did get to start all of his shifts either on the fly or in the offensive zone. Tocchet clearly isn’t ready yet to trust his young centre with too much defensive responsibilities, an understandable approach considering the jump in speed and skill when facing NHL-qualty opponents.
Over the next few games it would be nice to see Räty use his smarts and stick to get some action on net. He does have a great shot and that is his biggest offensive weapon. Finding ways to create space at the NHL level to get it off despite not being the most explosive player is going to be a big puzzle for the young Finnish forward.
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