A few years ago, Aatu Raty was on track to challenge for the first overall pick in the 2021 NHL draft. That seems insane now, given how far he fell this fall, but it’s true–the young Finnish forward was a hugely touted minor and junior prospect, who made his Liiga debut in 2019-20 and starred at the World Junior Championship despite being the youngest player in the tournament. Unfortunately, the years since haven’t been nearly as successful, stuck at the bottom of the lineup for Karpat and left off last year’s WJC team altogether. Raty ended up going 52nd overall to the New York Islanders, nearly dropping all the way to the third round.
Now, after another brutal start to his Liiga season, with just one point and barely any playing time in six games, Raty is getting a new opportunity. Karpat has officially announced a move that will send Raty (along with Veli-Matti Tiuraniemi) to Jukurit in exchange for Axel Rindell, a Toronto Maple Leafs sixth-round pick.
To be clear, this isn’t a move to a contender for Raty. In fact, Karpat is one of the most consistently powerful teams in Liiga, while Jukurit certainly doesn’t stand in that category. This season, the former is near the top of the table once again, while the latter is struggling to reach a .500 winning percentage. That’s exactly the point though, as Raty should be given a much bigger role in the Jukurit lineup and hopefully will be able to get his development back on track.
The Islanders signed Raty to a three-year entry-level deal in August, but loaned him back overseas after a few preseason appearances. They likely had at least some sort of influence on the move, hoping to get their young forward more playing time. They could technically recall him and put him in the AHL if they felt it was a better option, though current success at that level seems unlikely for the 18-year-old.