It’s been an unusual fall for hockey fans in North America.
Since the Tampa Bay Lightning were crowned Stanley Cup champs on Sept. 28, there’s been no NHL, AHL, WHL or OHL action to speak of, and the QMHJL has been plagued by suspensions in play due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But across the Atlantic, there’s been some semblance of normalcy. Pro leagues such as the KHL, SHL and SM-liiga are well into their 2020-21 campaigns, despite outbreaks and postponements. And the four-nation Karjala Cup wrapped up last weekend.
With some actual hockey played, here’s a look at a few of the prospects who have caught the attention of scouts overseas and could one day be plying their trade in North American arenas.
2021 draft-eligible prospects
Aatu Raty -- Karpat, SM-liiga
Aatu Raty is a known commodity. Pegged by many as an early favourite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, Raty came into his season with Karpat burdened with expectations. And, so far, the six-foot-one, 177-pound pivot has struggled to meet them.
Raty, who turns 18 on the weekend, has sat out games and doesn’t have a regular shift. In six appearances, he has two goals and he’s averaging just 10:02 of ice time. Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting, says he’s appeared to lack confidence, but that isn’t surprising given he’s playing in a men’s league on a strong Karpat team amid the pressure of his draft year.
“The skills and attributes that he showed last year, these are not things that you can fake, you're just not going to see them once or twice, you see them all the time with him,” said Marr.
“So right now, he's finding his way to get into the lineup and he'll just have to work his way through it. But he definitely has the talent and the skills -- you can put him in the top five for this draft class.”
In 2019-20, he scored 21 points in 30 games for Karpat’s under-20 team in Finland’s second division and added four points in 12 games for the big club. He also had three points in seven games for Finland at last year’s world juniors