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Raty among group vying to be selected No. 1 in 2021 NHL Draft

Finland center is top prospect in Europe; Hughes, Power also rated highly

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Aatu Raty of Karpat in Finland is projected to be among the top players eligible for the 2021 NHL Draft, with the potential to become the No. 1 pick, NHL scouts say.

Raty (6-foot-1, 177 pounds), a left-handed center, starred as a 17-year-old at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship and is expected to be a fixture for Finland during the 2021 WJC, which is scheduled to be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton Dec. 26-Jan. 5.

"At present, he's the No. 1 prospect in Europe," said Goran Stubb, the NHL director of European Scouting. "Aatu is a strong skater with speed, balance and excellent puck control. Something positive usually happens on every shift, and he's got a great attitude, works hard both ways and is used on the power play and penalty kill."

Raty scored three points (two goals, one assist), had nine shots on goal and a plus-5 rating averaging 11:38 of ice time in seven games as the only 2021 NHL Draft-eligible player at the 2020 WJC. He scored 21 points (two goals, 19 assists) in 30 games for Karpat Under-20 in Finland's second division and four points (two goals, two assists) in 12 games for Karpat of Liiga, Finland's top pro league.

He is the younger brother of right wing Aku Raty, selected in the fifth round (No. 151) by the Arizona Coyotes in the 2019 NHL Draft. The Raty brothers played on a line together at the 2020 WJC and for Karpat.

Other players projected as potential first-round candidates are Ontario Hockey League defensemen Brandt Clarke of Barrie and Daniil Chayka of Guelph, center Kent Johnson of Trail in the British Columbia Hockey League, right wing Dylan Guenther of Edmonton in the Western Hockey League, and defensemen Owen Power of Chicago in the United States Hockey League and Luke Hughes of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team.

Hughes (5-11, 162), the youngest of the three Hughes siblings -- defenseman Quinn Hughes of the Vancouver Canucks and center Jack Hughes of the New Jersey Devils -- scored 28 points (seven goals, 21 assists) and three power-play goals in 48 games for the NTDP Under-17 team this season.

"If anyone could end up benefiting from the quarantine during the coronavirus pandemic, it's Luke," former NTDP U-17 coach John Wroblewski said. "His body composition has taken off without the rigors of travel and games. He's going to be an extremely valuable two-way player.

"The great thing about Luke is that he won't need to force offense. If he concentrates on shutting people down, the offensive opportunities will be there, and he has a very slick skill set to back it up."

Luke Hughes, middle, with his brothers, Jack (far left), of the New Jersey Devils, and Quinn (right), of the Vancouver Canucks, at the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver.

 

Power (6-4, 213) scored 40 points (12 goals, 28 assists) and 19 power-play points (five goals, 14 assists) in 47 games for Chicago.

"Power is a big defender who moves well for his size and looks to be a top-pairing defenseman moving forward," Greg Rajanen of NHL Central Scouting said. "He's poised with the puck with solid puck decisions."

Clarke (6-1, 180), a right-handed shot, scored 38 points (six goals, 32 assists) and had nine power-play assists in 57 games as a rookie for Barrie this season.

"Brandt is an extremely mobile puck-moving defenseman with high-end hockey IQ," Joey Tenute of NHL Central Scouting said. "He's an excellent passer and playmaker with great vision and execution. He's excellent on the power play and a quarterback from the back end that sees the ice so well moving the puck up ice to the right option."

Chayka (6-2, 179) scored 34 points (11 goals, 23 assists) in 56 games in his second season with Guelph.

"Daniil is a very smooth-skating defenseman with excellent mobility," Tenute said. "He's extremely calm and poised with the puck and pushes the pace of play up ice. His size gives him excellent range to defend, and his long reach and stick on puck makes him hard to beat."

Guenther (6-0, 166) scored 59 points (26 goals, 33 assists) and eight power-play goals in 58 games as a rookie this season. He set an Edmonton record for goals by a rookie, surpassing Trey Fix-Wolansky (24) in 2016-17, and points by a rookie, passing defenseman Martin Gernat (55) in 2011-12.

"Dylan is highly skilled and an elite offensive talent," John Williams of NHL Central Scouting said. "He's a very good skater, quick and fast. He was a top-line player for the Oil Kings as a 16-year-old."

Johnson (5-10, 159) led the BCHL in goals (41), assists (60), points (101) and 39 power-play points (14 goals, 25 assists) in 52 games for Trail.

"Right now, he's slated to be at the University of Michigan [in 2020-21]," Williams said. "He's another highly skilled player, very elusive and creative with the puck."

The top goalie prospect could be Jesper Wallstedt (6-2, 214) of Lulea in Sweden. He had a 2.53 goals-against average and .923 save percentage in 28 games for Lulea's junior team in the SuperElit last season.

"He's got good size, excellent net coverage, plays with confidence and was the difference-maker in many games this season," Stubb said. "He reads the game well, has very good quickness and plays an athletic style. Wallstedt is considered the best goalie prospect in Sweden in the past 5-to-6 years."

 

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