Can Rattie Break Through with Oilers?

On July 1 the Edmonton Oilers signed forward Ty Rattie to a one-year deal worth $700,000. Edmonton will be Rattie’s third NHL franchise since being drafted 32nd overall in 2011. Many draft prognosticators predicted Rattie to be a dangerous offensive player and one known to assault the scoresheets in junior.

Rattie averaged an impressive 1.29 points per game (348 points) in 269 games with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. He was an offensive dynamo and looked to be a key piece of the St. Louis Blues’ future, or so we thought.

Ty Rattie is an interesting player because his size and defensive skills have been knocked, but there’s no getting around the fact he can really assault the score sheet. He is likely a late first-rounder or early second-rounder. – Ryan Kennedy, The Hockey News

Edmonton signed Ty Rattie to a one-year deal on July 1. (James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)

The now 24-year old toiled with the Blues’ minor league affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, for four seasons scoring 71 goals and 141 points in 215 games. During that time, Rattie played just 29 games with the main club before being claimed on waivers by the Carolina Hurricanes. Six weeks later he was re-claimed by the Blues.

In total, Rattie has played just 34 NHL games and had just ten points. So it begs the question, just where does he fit in Edmonton?

Ty Rattie “Underachiever”

Oilers general manager spoke about the signings on July 1 and Rattie in particular during an impromptu press conference. Chiarelli stated that Edmonton had an interest in the Alberta native last season and had an unsuccessful waiver claim. Edmonton’s GM still sees value in Rattie at the NHL level and threw around the label of an underachiever.

I think he’s underachieved at the NHL level. A lot of teams have taken a look at him and we put a claim in on him on waiver claim. He’s got a real good hockey sense, good release, smart player, works angles real well with or without the puck. He’s underachieved and I don’t know why. We’ve got certain reasons why, from observations, but we believe he can play on our team. If not, he’ll provide us good depth. – Peter Chiarelli, Oilers GM

Ty Rattie (Ross Bonander / THW)
Rattie has just 34 NHL games under his belt. (Ross Bonander/THW)

Regardless of Chiarelli’s vote of confidence that Rattie can turn things around, he finds himself on the outside looking in — the early projections of Edmonton’s roster would offer a tight squeeze for Rattie. Because the organization didn’t go out and target any of the big fish in the market, the defacto is they’ve given a vote of confidence to their internal talent.

Left Wing Center Right Wing
Patrick Maroon Connor McDavid Leon Draisaitl
Milan Lucic Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Jesse Puljujarvi
Drake Caggiula Ryan Strome Anton Slepyshev
Jujhar Khaira Mark Letestu Zack Kassian
Iiro Pakarinen

Jesse Puljujarvi, Drake Caggiula and Jujhar Khaira have seemingly received a vote of confidence from Chiarelli and the coaching staff. Those three will be given every opportunity to earn a bigger role with the franchise in 2017-18. Puljujarvi will likely get another crack at a top-six job, with Caggiula being a backup plan and Anton Slpeyshev after.

Khaira is penciled into the fourth line, so just where exactly does Rattie fall in the pecking order?

The Tyler Pitlick Effect

If there’s any inspiration for Rattie from recent Oilers history, he doesn’t have to look further than Tyler Pitlick. Last season, the often injured and overlooked Pitlick had an impressive training camp and willed himself onto Edmonton’s opening night roster.

Pitlick would score eight goals and 11 points during his longest stint in the NHL and earning opportunities in the top six. An injury ultimately derailed Pitlick’s season and he’s since recovered and signed with the Dallas Stars. Similar enough, Rattie’s NHL auditions have been erratic, inconsistent and troubling at best. He’s played an average of nine-ten minutes per night and hasn’t lived up to that scoring potential.

Rattie is a low risk, possible high reward signing for Edmonton. (Ross Bonander/THW)

In junior Rattie tallied a 48 and 57 goal season, but a major part of his scoring troubles has been that he doesn’t shoot the puck enough at the NHL level. His play at the AHL level, like Pitlick, is an entirely different story. In the minors, Rattie is averaging 2.9 shots per game, compared to just 1.1 in the NHL. Unless Rattie starts firing the puck at the net, you’re going to be looking at a capped ceiling for this player.

In the end, the Rattie signing is a low-risk, high reward type signing. If he knocks it out of the park and proves to be a consistent NHL presence, good on him. On paper, Rattie will likely be one of the first and most frequent recalls from Bakersfield. That said, Pitlick was in a similar situation last year, and a lot of people wrote him off — maybe Rattie can finally shake the label of being an underachieving player.