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EXCLUSIVE: Islanders Räty & Dufour Providing Hope For Future

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New York Islanders, Bridgeport Islanders. William Dufour

The New York Islanders may not have the deepest prospect pool in the NHL, but they have more young talent than they have in previous seasons.

Two 20-year-old prospects, Aatu Räty and William Dufour are both taking part in their first full season in the AHL and are providing hope for the future.

The newest Bridgeport duo can often be found skating together and are developing great chemistry this season.

“We’ve known each other for a couple of months now. We played against each other at world juniors, and it was nice. So for sure, every day our chemistry is getting better and better, and so I’m not stressed about that, and game by game we’re going to get better, and one day we’re both going to score a couple of goals,” Dufour told NYI Hockey Now.

Räty (5 G, 7 A, 12 PTS) and Dufour (10 G, 6 A, 16 PTS) have combined for 15 goals and 24 points in 26 games, providing highlight-reel passes and goals helping Bridgeport to third in the Atlantic Division (14-8-5-0).

It’s important to note that there have been speedbumps along the way.

Aatu Räty missed four games earlier this season due to a non-COVID-related illness, and William Dufour was benched for a game for developmental reasons back in November.

“We want him to be able to play a solid 200-foot game, and we had some really good conversations, and he’s getting his opportunity to play this weekend for sure,” Thompson told NYI Hockey Now about Dufour back on Nov. 18.

After returning to the lineup, Dufour put on a show with a goal in each of his first two games back along with an assist.

Räty had a similar comeback with a goal and two assists in his second game back against the Providence Bruins on December 11th.

“What you try and do is you make sure that each player, no matter whether they’re a young player or an older player, they’re put in the best position to succeed, and sometimes you need to take some pressure off a player,” Bridgeport Islanders Chris Lamoriello said. “When I say pressure, it could be the workload, and It may not necessarily be anything other than that.”

Management isn’t the only one taking notice of the young studs on this Bridgeport team.

” A lot of these young guys, they bought into what the system is and what we kind of have here as an environment and what Coach Thompson and Coach Kowalsky have kind of preached at the beginning of the year, and that’s based on maturity,” Bridgeport Islanders captain Seth Helgeson said. “For some younger guys, maybe it takes a while, but these guys are right into it. They’re learning as they go and bring the energy, and you kind of sit back and watch as an older guy.”

Veterans in the Bridgeport locker room like Helgeson and Chris Terry see it as their responsibility to teach the young players on this team what it takes to make it to the show.

“You’re pretty lucky to see some of what these guys can do, and that’s a positive, we build off that, and they’re going to keep on learning. As an older guy and the older crew that we have, we got to do a good job of making sure that happens,” Terry said.

As for as a timeline for these two, Räty seems closer given the fact that he played professionally overseas while Dufour is fresh from juniors.

But as you have read, both are growing their games and that’s a positive for an organization who have struggled to develop prospects.

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