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2021 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Aatu Räty comes in with high potential after a little bit of adversity

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On paper it looks like Aatu Räty fills a need for the Blue Jackets.

2020 World Junior Ice Hockey Championship, Semifinals: Canada vs Finland Photo by Peter Kovalev\TASS via Getty Images

We are less than a month away from the 2021 NHL Entry Draft (July 23-24), so it’s time to start researching the prospects likely to be selected in the first round. The Columbus Blue Jackets currently hold three picks in that round: #5, #24, and #30 or #31.

Aatu Räty

Position: Center
Team: Kärpät / Liiga
Date of Birth: November 14, 2002
Birthplace: Moskva, Russia
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 181
Shoots: Left

Rankings

Ranked #14 by CONSOLIDATED RANKING
Ranked #20 by ELITEPROSPECTS.COM
Ranked #19 by FCHOCKEY
Ranked #18 by NEUTRAL ZONE
Ranked #20 by TSN/BOB McKENZIE
Ranked #12 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
Ranked #29 by TSN/CRAIG BUTTON
Ranked #3 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (EU Skaters)
Ranked #14 by SPORTSNET’S
Ranked #25 by RECRUIT SCOUTING
Ranked #11 by DOBBERPROSPECTS
Ranked #15 by DRAFT PROSPECTS HOCKEY
Ranked #14 by SMAHT SCOUTING
Ranked #7 by THE PUCK AUTHORITY

2020-21 Stats

Kärpät U20 - U20 SM-sarja

Games Played: 8
Goals: 3
Assists: 4
Points: 7
PIM: 2

Kärpät - Liiga

Games Played: 35
Goals: 3
Assists: 3
Points: 6
PIM: 18

Raty’s position of center right away fits a need for the Blue Jackets. He garnered attention (The fall from No. 1: Aatu Räty is no longer the 2021 NHL Draft’s top prospect, but that isn’t the end of his story) for his game at the young age of 16 playing for Finland’s under-20 junior league. Raty played for Team Finland in 2019 in the under-18 world championships where he was the youngest player. But as pressure increased, he struggled on the ice, and mixed with a pandemic, concerns were raised about his progression by Kärpät general manager is Harri Aho, the father of Hurricanes star Sebastian Aho.

It sounds like his draft prospects are in the 10-20 range. Still high prospects being a first round draft pick, and perhaps more realistic of him all along.

Scouting Reports

His hockey IQ is good and he can create plays by himself and for other players. That’s probably his best strength. The basic skills are good, so that’s not going to be an issue,” Aho said. “And he works really hard on and off of the ice. Sometimes he needs to take more rest than work. It’s not about his work ethic. That’s super. He’s a guy who wants to learn all the time more and more, and he’s interested about the game and how to develop himself. From that point of view, he’s a really good prospect and a good kid. He really can be someday in a good role in the NHL but it will take some time. - Scott Wheeler, The Athletic

*Interestingly enough Raty is who Wheeler has going to Columbus at No. 24 (from Toronto Maple Leafs) in his June 30 NHL Mock Draft:

This just makes too much sense for everyone involved. Jarmo Kekalainen and his staff will have done their due diligence on the Finn, they love a reclamation project, they need to build their centre depth for the NHL club through their pool (their best prospects, from Kirill Marchenko on down, are currently wingers), and though they also have serious holes to fill in their system on defence, they’ll likely have filled those at No. 5. There aren’t many D who could realistically go in this range. - Scott Wheeler, The Athletic

At the heart of his game, Räty is a strong center who can play a very good two-way game and he has a wrist shot that should make him a scoring threat as well. His playmaking is underrated as well. His teammates couldn’t convert on a ridiculous amount of scoring chances that he would create, maybe more than any other player in Europe with the exception of Fabian Lysell. Räty may not be the number one guy anymore but he should still be a very good middle-six center at worst and a solid 1A/B if he can get his consistency and mentality back to where it was in the past. - Tony Ferrari, DobberProspects

Räty has an accurate shot and can deliver throughout the offensive zone. He has a heavy slap shot, with which he can drain shots from the blue line. When he is featured on the power play, he can often be seen along the half wall and will often execute wrist shots once he has a clear opening to the net. Also, his shot will often pave the way for rebound goals. Given how accurate Räty is with his shot, if he feels that he is too far out, but he sees a teammate by the crease, he will deliver a wrist or slap shot to the goaltender’s pads and more than often that will lead to a rebound. - Smaht Scouting

Highlights