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New York Islanders

Islanders Need Wake-Up Call, Where’s Räty?



New York Islanders, Aatu Räty

PHOENIX, AZ–Following the 5-4 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Friday night, an NHL bottom-feeder, New York Islanders head coach Lane Lambert was not pleased with the way his team played after getting out to a strong start, an early 2-0 lead.

“I thought we got outworked for a portion of that game, and it’s unacceptable,” Lambert said.

Being outworked is one thing. The Islanders took their foot off the gas. For an NHL team to ever do that in a game against any opponent is concerning, especially a team fighting for a playoff spot in a tough Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference.

The Islanders have lost six of their last eight games (3-5-1).

How do you wake up a team that is sleepwalking too much?

New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello could really wake the group up by firing Lambert, which is not out of the possibility given the general manager’s record with coaches. It’s hard to fault Lambert as he’s not on the ice, and he’s not the one who built this team.

He’s trying to get the most out of the rostered players, and at some point, it falls on them and upper management. Lamoriello also believed the Islanders needed a new voice by firing future Hall of Famer Barry Trotz, so it seems that the voice is not the issue.

So what do you do when the NHL regulars aren’t providing enough?

You call up prospects that you deem are ready for NHL action.

We saw it out of necessity with Kyle Palmieri, Anthony Beauvillier, and Cal Clutterbuck out of the lineup, with the call-up of Simon Holmstrom.

He played well but did not provide the offense the Islanders needed.

What the Islanders need is a top-six forward to help re-energize the group.

Is it time for 20-year-old Aatu Räty to get his chance?

Lamoriello and Lambert repeatedly said during training camp and preseason that Räty is a centerman, despite having played wing in the past. The Islanders have four centermen that are not coming out of the lineup and are certainly not the issue.

But we are at the point in the season where the Islanders need the skill that Räty can provide. They could move Räty to the wing position or place Brock Nelson on Mathew Barzal’s wing, and have Räty center Anders Lee and Anthony Beauvillier.

Lee has not looked great over the last handful of games, especially alongside Barzal.

The former 2021 second-round selection has five goals and six assists in 22 games for the Bridgeport Islanders this season, and during preseason he showed off that shot, along with his hockey IQ.

When his skates hit the ice, he always seemed to find himself in the right position, which showed his understanding of his responsibilities.

Räty is only in his first full season down in Bridgeport, so there may be some questions as to how ready he is.

However, unlike William Dufour, Räty has been playing pro overseas for many years which is a clear benefit in transitioning to the NHL.

After missing four games with a non-COVID-related illness, Räty has been back in the lineup for four games, with a goal and two assists.

The Islanders currently find themselves in the second wild-card spot, with the Washington Capitals, the Detroit Red Wings and the Florida Panthers right on their tails.

There’s no time to wait, and if Lamoriello believes Räty is ready, then it’s time for him to receive the call-up and help provide the spark the Islanders desperately need.

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