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Islanders select Aatu Raty, a potential sleeper, in second round of NHL draft

The stage is set for the first round

The stage is set for the first round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft at the NHL Network studios on Friday, July 23, 2021, in Secaucus, N.J. Credit: Getty Images/Bruce Bennett

The Islanders didn’t have a first-round pick. But a potential first-round talent may have fallen to them deep into the second round on Saturday.

Finnish center Aatu Raty was selected with the 52nd overall pick. He struggled to produce last season with Karpat of the Finnish Elite League, with just three goals and three assists in 35 games, though he had two first-period goals for his national team on Saturday against Sweden.

"Yes, we were surprised that he was where he was at," Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello said. "We’re extremely pleased with that pick."

Raty was projected as a potential top-10 pick in the NHL Draft prior to last season and the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau still had him ranked third among European skaters heading into this draft.

"It was a tough season for me and the team that I play for in the Finnish League," the 6-2, 175-pound Raty said. "It’s a super tough league, playing pro hockey with grown men. I kind of struggled to get consistent minutes. The season got better toward the end, so I’m happy about it."

Raty said he expects to return to Karpat for next season.

And Raty suspects his "tough season" may turn out to be a blessing in disguise when he eventually does come to North America.

"For a lot of super-talented young players who get drafted and they’ve always been the guy on the team, it’s going to be tough for them when they’re trying to go to an NHL team," Raty said. "They’re not going to be the best player on the team and they might have to play the penalty kill and the bottom-two lines. I’m happy that I had to go through a season like that. I think I’ll be more ready."

New York Sports