Blues prospect tallied 121 points in WHL a season ago looking to bulk up
By LOUIE KORAC
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- When Ty Rattie first arrived for his initial orientation visit with the Blues last summer, it was no different for him than the majority of the prospects witnessing life in the NHL for the first time.
"It was sort of like starting school for the first time," Rattie said. "You didn't know what to expect and you're obviously nervous."
Blues prospect Ty Rattie (8) scored 57 goals in the WHL a season ago.
He's attending workouts with fellow prospects this week in St. Louis.
Rattie, who was the Blues' first pick in the 2011 draft when he was chosen 32nd overall, comes into his second summer working with Blues' strength and conditioning coach Nelson Ayotte this week at the St. Louis Mills Ice Zone brimming with confidence and eager to elevate the impressive numbers the six-foot, 173-pound Airdrie, Alberta native (just north of Calgary) put up in the Western Hockey League last season.
The 19-year-old ranked third overall in the WHL and led the Portland Winterhawks in scoring with 121 points on 57 goals and 64 assists in 2011-12. He also led the league in playoff goals with 19 in 21 games as the Winterhawks fell to the Edmonton Oil Kings in seven games in the Ed Chynoweth Cup, the WHL version of the championship series.
Now having been through the initial process towards the goal of becoming an NHL player, Rattie will continue to try and prove the skeptics wrong. It's the same skeptics that say the right winger is too small and too light to become an effective player at the NHL level.
"I thought I had a really good year," Rattie said. "Our team came one game short in Game 7 there, but personal-wise, I was really happy with my year. Hopefully I can keep going with it next year.
"The biggest thing for me was skating and I thought I really improved that. Now I'm just trying to put on weight. I put on about six-to-seven pounds at the end of the season. I'm on the right track. That's the biggest thing for me right now is just getting bigger and improving my strength."
The Blues and the scouting staff that thought so highly of Rattie last summer to draft him as high as they did, certainly were aware of the kind of season he had in Portland.
"Obviously, if you put up those numbers, you're doing something right," said Bill Armstrong, the Blues' director of amateur scouting. "What you look at is as a scout and try and project: is he capable of producing those numbers at a higher level? With him, he's got the sense and the feel and the ability to make plays offensively, thinks the game at a very high level. As far as strength-wise, he's still a ways away from the NHL. Size and strength and speed will be his biggest adjustment as a player coming in. So he'll have to do that. His brain obviously thinks the game very fast. Now, it's his physical ability with the strength, which will take some time to get there.
"He's got to work on playing a complete game, I think. But that's time and maturity. It takes a little bit of time to get in there. He's one of those kids, he's got a raw body type, so he's going to have to put some time in to getting bigger and stronger."
Blues' 2011 second round pick Ty Rattie (right) got a taste of NHL action
last year during the preseason, his first taste of NHL play.
Blues director of player development Tim Taylor, a veteran of 13 NHL seasons with Detroit, Boston, New York Rangers and Tampa Bay, has noticed an increased effort Rattie to putting in the necessary work.
"I think his work ethic has changed a little bit," Taylor said. "Young players have to learn that it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. It's not just the talent that takes over. You need to put everything together to be successful."
Rattie, who scored 28 times and added another 51 assists in 2010-11 with the Winterhawks, seems destined for another season in the WHL. But first, he hopes to be attending training camp here in St. Louis and making a lasting impression on his future employer. Rattie hopes the next step would be get to the American Hockey League and the Peoria Rivermen.
"I'd love to get to the NHL as quick as possible," Rattie said. "That's everybody's dream, but I know I've got a lot of work ahead of me. I'm pushing and I want to be there as quick as I can.
"My goal is to be here for camp and it would be a dream-come-true to make it to the NHL."