With the 2021 NHL Entry Draft being immensely unpredictable, it is very enjoyable seeing the vast differences in its mock drafts. For example, Scott Wheeler of The Athletic envisions the Boston Bruins reaching for Russian defenseman Daniil Chayka with the 20th overall pick. It’s certainly an intriguing take, but there’s another one that warrants our attention, as well.
When looking at The Hockey Writers mock draft, they see the Bruins taking center Aatu Raty with their first-round pick. Raty is one of the most fascinating prospects out there in my honest opinion. Just last year, he was seen as the consensus first-overall pick for this draft. Yet, the sudden emergence of defenseman Owen Power and a down year has led Raty to take a bit of a nosedive in the rankings.
Raty played in 35 games this season with Kärpät of Liiga. In them, he managed to score three goals and produce six points in total. During the 2019-20 season with the team, he produced at a higher points per game rate. He only played 12 games, but had four points. Keep in mind, this is Finland’s top league, so he was playing against professional talent. However, his decline in production is understandably a red flag.
At this said juncture, both Elite Prospects and TSN’s Bob McKenzie coincidentally have him ranked at No. 20. He also is now labeled as the third-best European skater in this draft class. Therefore, he still should be taken in the first round, but nowhere as high as we all once thought.
Is Aatu Raty worth the gamble for the Bruins, though?
When looking at the Bruins’ prospect pool, it is rather weak. This does not mesh well with the fact that a good chunk of their core guys are getting older. There will come a day when Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci will no longer be the two best centers of the Bruins. In fact, the latter is a pending unrestricted free agent and may head back to the Czech Republic. Thus, adding another a center prospect would not be a bad thing.
It is hard to complain about bringing in a prospect who once was viewed as the best of the class. Raty is still a 18-year-old kid who has loads of time to develop and find his stride. He also has had a lot of offensive success in lower leagues, especially when it comes to his passing ability.
The Bruins do have important young centers in their system, though. Jack Studnicka and John Beecher are often regarded as being among the team’s best prospects. Therefore, one could argue that they would be better off drafting someone who plays a different position.
The Bruins need serious help at both right wing and on the left side of defensive core. It may be more likely that they aim to address these lingering issues first. However, Raty is still such an alluring prospect because he may have a very high ceiling. We will have to wait and see if the Bruins draft him.