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Gotta See It: Räty Roofs One From the Slot, Snipes Blackwood

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New York Islanders, Aatu Räty

What a weird two days it was for New York Islanders’ top prospect Aatu Räty.

It was just on Wednesday that the former 56th overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft packed up his things and switched from Long Island to Bridgeport, Connecticut, following the latest cuts.

But when eight skaters took the ice for Thursday’s optional morning skate before facing the New Jersey Devils, Aatu Räty and Simon Holmstrom (also cut) were out there as the Islanders needed a few bodies with a few others banged up.

When I asked Lane Lambert this morning what he wanted to see from those two guys in the game later Thursday evening, he said

“We’ll get another good look at them. You know, I think we want to see more of what we’ve seen, and they just continue to play their game,” Lambert shared Thursday. “We like what they bring. And you know, they’re a couple of young guys, [so] some youth and energy.”

Well, Räty took advantage of that extra look with a highlight-reel goal to cap off the Islanders’ offensive night with a missile from the slot as New York defeated the New Jersey Devils by a score of 5-2.

Rapid Recap: Islanders Down Devils 5-2, Offense Comes Alive

His goal was not just your average slot from the shot goal.

It was a turnaround, no-look snipe that beat New Jersey Devils netminder Mackenzie Blackwood high glove side.

That’s a rather exceptional play for a 19-year-old to make, as not only did he have to corral the puck quickly, but get the shot off nearly as fast before a New Jersey Devils defenseman could get their stick in there.

And then, to top it off, to have the ability to get as dangerous a shot off as he did showed was impressive.

“Yeah, pretty, pretty weird. Yeah, I was supposed to go to Bridgeport, but then I guess some minor stuff [happened] and me, and Simon [Holmstrom] were called up to play, and yeah, kind of a weird day because I missed practice because I was supposed to travel to Bridgeport, but yeah I felt good today. I guess the day off was good.”

When I asked Räty how he felt after taking a Romanov shot off the leg, which forced him to be helped to the locker room, he heard the shot and spoke about his goal instead.

“Definitely happy that it went in. Probably my first shot on goal in the three games now, so…”

Here’s the video because Räty’s reaction when I clarified what I meant was pretty comical (0:29):

 

Räty seems to be fine, by the way. He explained that it was not a hard shot but that the puck just caught him in the wrong spot (right inner knee), causing his leg to go numb.

A charley horse, if you will.

What we saw from Räty on Thursday night was nothing new.

Since development camp began, Aatu Räty has stood out for all the right reasons. He’s shown that he has the tools to make it to the NHL, given his smarts, shot, and ability to defend.

In the 5-2 win, Räty had his first two points of the preseason (third game played), with a goal, an assist, a +3, and a block in 13:38 minutes.

Because Räty is a center, there is truly no opening on the NHL roster right now. With Mat Barzal, Brock Nelson, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Casey Cizikas staples in the NHL lineup, it was best for Räty to grow at the AHL level.

Räty came over last season and played eight games with the Bridgeport Islanders, six coming in the Calder Cup playoffs. He showcased a quick release as he scored the overtime goal in their series-clincher, as they beat the Providence Bruins in the first round.

And he showed that again on Thursday.

The likelihood of Aatu Räty making the current roster is rather slim, but the Islanders are already dealing with injuries, specifically to their forward group. From an organization standpoint, Räty has proven that he is NHL caliber and did not give them a reason to be sent down on Wednesday, just solely looking at his play on the ice.

But with the lack of an available seventh spot, does a team want their top prospect not playing every night, or would they rather them be given top-line minutes, especially a player still getting used to the North American game?

The latter, no doubt.

 

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