For the first time since 2012, the Arizona Coyotes selected a Finnish prospect in this year’s NHL Draft. They picked up Finns in back-to-back rounds, first Matias Maccelli with the 98th overall pick and then Aku Räty with the 151th overall pick.
Finnish Junior Hockey had Räty ranked as No. 13 from the Finnish leagues in its final 2019 NHL Draft ranking. Maccelli was not included in the rankings as he spent the past season with the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints. Maccelli was one of the top scorers in the league last season, amassing 72 points in 62 regular season games. He improved his two-way play and defensive reliability while providing crucial offense for the Fighting Saints.
Maccelli made an immediate impact in his first preseason game with Ilves, scoring four goals in a 7-2 win over Tappara. Apart from the goals, the winger made smart plays with the puck and constantly played with his head up while scanning his options. In the following clip, Maccelli displays his 1-on-1 skills and spots his teammate backdoor with a great backhand pass.
Even though the level of competition for the final spots on Ilves’ roster is high, I think Maccelli will very likely be on the opening night roster when the Liiga begins in less than two weeks. He has a great mixture of quick hands, poise and good passing skills. These attributes could make him a power play asset for the team. He has good quickness in his first few strides and can make shifty moves to evade opponents. With only one preseason game remaining, Maccelli leads Ilves in scoring with a 4-3-7 stat line in four games.
Aku Räty is having a strong preseason with Kärpät. The Coyotes fifth rounder has nothing but impressed with his defensive game while chipping in offensively from time to time as well. He scored a very nice goal in the preseason opener against KalPa, picking up the top corner from the slot. He played on the third line in Kärpät’s most recent Champions Hockey League game against Bern.
Räty has stood out in the juniors because of his strong offensive skill set and skating. He possesses good puck control, hands and shot. However, his versatility and high work rate have not gone unnoticed in the preseason and I think both will be key factors as he moves up to the higher levels – possibly eventually to the NHL. For the moment, there is no doubt that Räty is making a strong case for a regular spot on the Liiga team. At the very least, he should play a fair amount of games over the course of the season.