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  • 2021 NHL Draft: Aatu Raty is a favorite


    Aatu Raty, eh? Man, where do I even begin?

    This isn’t necessarily news to anyone who follows the upcoming NHL Entry Draft or, prospects as a whole — but Aatu Raty is an extremely divisive player.

    It hasn’t always been that way, after all he was mine, and lot of of other scouts consensus number-one pick this time last year. But, like a lot of young players, development is filled with peaks and valleys. That’s certainly the case with the young Finn, his development hasn’t exactly been linear.

    For the last two years, and even at the beginning of this season — a good chunk of the scouting community thought that Raty would be at worst, a top-five pick in the upcoming draft. As the season wore on, and due to Raty’s poor start in the Finnish Liiga, he began to slip down the rankings. Since then, there’s been a lot of discourse about what type of expectations should be placed on a player like Raty, some fair and some not.

    In July, I expect a team is going to draft Raty in the first round and if it’s the Minnesota Wild, there’s still a lot to be excited about! Don’t get too caught up in the noise.

    Pre-Draft Rankings

    #3 by NHL Central Scouting (EU Skaters)

    #19 by Corey Pronman/The Athletic

    #16 by Scott Wheeler/The Athletic

    #19 by FCHockey

    What Scouts (Including Me) Are Saying

    What I see when I watch Raty play is a player who’s got exceptional hands in tight, and can make space in the offensive zone. I don’t think Raty will ever be a 30-goal scorer in the NHL, and that isn’t terribly important with his ability to create plays, and find shooting lanes. When he does shoot, he has an accurate, but average wrist shot. I’d like to see him add more shot variety in his game, and well, shoot the puck more.

    Defensively, Raty is a player who is fairly responsible. He protects the puck well, but can be inconsistent. I’d like to see him gap up a bit sooner, and use his size to knock the puck off the rush. I think he has the tools to be a great 200-foot player in the NHL, but he’ll need to continue to refine them through better positioning and skating.

    Raty’s skating is average, and I think this could hold him back from being an impactful NHL player. I’ve read interviews where he has spoken to working on his skating, and I’m hopeful this is something that can be corrected sooner than later. Speed wise, he leaves a lot to be desired. If he had a quicker first few strides, and could maintain that acceleration earlier in the stride, he’d be better for it. Again, these are things I’m sure he’s laser focused on heading into the draft.

    -Scott Wheeler, The Athletic

    -Eetu Siltanen, Dobber Prospects

    -Corey Pronman, The Athletic

    Would He Fit In With The Wild?

    All things considered, I believe the Wild would be a really great landing spot for a player like Raty. The Wild can absolutely benefit from extra depth on center, and having a player with Raty’s upside in the Wild system is always a good thing. Although he may never live up to the hype generated by his U20 World Juniors performance a few years back, I think it’s reasonable to assume that Raty will still be an impact player at the NHL level.

    The development curve for European prospects can be a difficult one to navigate. I’m thinking about the CHL Import Draft coming up on June 30th, and I have to wonder if a CHL team would pick Raty and give him the opportunity to play meaningful minutes in Canada. Not that he necessarily needs meaningful minutes to continue to develop, but could this transition to North American ice, earlier on, be considered an asset to a player who’s been up in down in Finland? I guess we’ll see what happens.

    Could The Wild Get Him?

    Definitely. If I were the Wild, I’d pick Raty with either of the first round picks they have. I think his availability at No. 20 will depend on how much a team like Nashville values centers in the draft. They’re looking to stock the cupboards, too.

    A Minnesota Relation

    It’s probably a bit lazy in the eyes of some of our readers, but if everything breaks right — I think that Aatu Raty could turn out to be a Mikko Koivu type player. Yes, they’re both centers — yes, they’re both defensively responsible; too easy? Wait, let me Finnish.

    Although Raty doesn’t have quite the size that Koivu has, it’s reasonable to assume that Raty could end up having the best parts of Koivu’s defensive skillset. I believe that Raty has considerably more offensive upside, but I think it’s an interesting argument to make.

    Whatever happens, Raty’s trajectory will be interesting to follow.

    2021 NHL Draft Board


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