With his ten-game threshold approaching quickly, the New York Islanders have sent Aatu Raty back to the minor leagues. Despite being 20, Raty’s contract can still technically slide forward if he plays fewer than ten games in the NHL this season. Robin Salo has also been sent back, as Adam Pelech continues to skate and approach a return.
Raty has played seven so far, scoring his first two NHL goals in the process. He has averaged just over eight minutes, but certainly did not look out of place even in his limited opportunity. The move will open a roster spot for the eventual return of Kyle Palmieri, though today, head coach Lane Lambert told Andrew Gross of Newsday that there is still no timetable, despite his recent participation in practice.
It of course could also have nothing to do with the ten-game threshold, with the Islanders instead just wanting Raty to get more consistent ice time in offensive situations. Many teams are now putting more importance on the 40-game mark that deems it a season toward unrestricted free agency. In fact, sometimes crossing the lower threshold with limited ice time can be beneficial to a team in the long-run. Contract negotiations coming out of entry-level deals have become much more complicated, with top players asking for long-term, big-money deals, and even players with a lesser impact demanding raises on bridge deals.
Limiting the production of a player like Raty in the first year of his ELC, could give the team a bit more leverage down the line. Counting stats are considered in both arbitration cases and RFA negotiations.
Either way, if the Islanders believe Raty is one of the 12 best forward options they have, there should be no hesitation to put him in the lineup. The team is still within striking distance of the playoffs, and could even challenge for the division with an extended hot streak. To do either, they’ll need to turn around the three-game losing streak they are currently on.