2011 second-round pick to be given every chance at making
opening-night roster; one-way contract doesn't change mindset
ST. LOUIS -- From the moment the Blues drafted him in the second round in 2011, Ty Rattie has been labeled as one of up-and-coming prospects in the organization.
Rattie had the numbers; he had back-to-back seasons with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League in 2011 and 2012 with 57 and 48 goals, respectively, to go with 64 and 62 assists.
Rattie's numbers with the Chicago Wolves have been solid as well; he put up 31 goals his rookie season in 2014 with the Wolves, leading the team.
|(St. Louis Blues photo)|
2011 second round pick Ty Rattie has best chance of making
opening night roster with the Blues this season.
But Rattie, 23, hasn't been able to crack the Blues' lineup full time as of yet. He's either been beaten out, or the Blues have been stocked with veterans with no roster space available. It's been a patient process for Rattie, who's been recalled multiple times the past three seasons.
"It's not easy sometimes," Rattie said at camp on Thursday. "At the same time, the St. Louis Blues have been a Stanley Cup contender ever since I got drafted here. It's a part of the process and you keep working and hopefully this year comes full circle for me."
It's come full circle, and Rattie, who signed a one-year, one-way contract worth $650,000, his first one-way contract of his career, will have the best chance of his young career to make his presence felt with the Blues this season.
Will it change the approach for Rattie, who has four goals and four assists in 26 NHL games?
"Not really," he said. "I think a one-way's nice to have, but that doesn't guarantee you anything. I haven't been told anything, so my mindset's the same as always. Come in here, push for a spot and push to help out the team every single night. Mindset's the same and you can't let the contract change that.
"Obviously it's a bit of a different feeling. A couple veterans have moved on and you see there's a couple openings this year that maybe in the at there hasn't been. It's exciting. I feel good. This is the best I've felt as an NHL player. I just need to prove to everyone, prove to the coaching staff that I can be here full time."
Coach Ken Hitchcock is giving the 6-foot, 190-pound Rattie every opportunity this go-round.
"This is the best opportunity he's ever going to have," Hitchcock said of Rattie. "He's got to take advantage of it. He's had two good exhibition games so far, it's put him in a position to keep playing and we're really hopeful he takes advantage of it. To me, it's not what he does with the puck, it's going to be his play away from the puck that determines if he makes the team or not. He's in a great situation. He's got a great opportunity, there's a spot there. He's got NHL skill, he's got NHL top skill. Can he sustain the work ethic and the determination and the focus away from the puck to keep this thing going because if he does, he's got a real good chance of making the hockey club.
"The progression's been gradual. Before he was a depth player. Now we're looking at, 'Are you going to help us win hockey games?' If he keeps playing the way he's playing, he's going to be in the mix here. Can you sustain it now because training camp's a long period of time? He's got to have a real good focus and if he keeps that focus up, if he keeps that energy up, he's going to really push for a spot because he's able to play the game at a high level and because he's got skill, he's got great finish. The puck follows him around the ice. He gets points for you. It's going to really add to our team. It's him, it's (Kenny) Agostino, it's (Samuel) Blais, it's (Magnus) Paajarvi. These are guys that, man, they can make our team be a little bit different here, quite a bit different and really be one of those teams where we're dangerous right throughout our lineup if they can make the grade."
The Blues have placed their faith in younger players to have an impact on the 2016-17 team, and Rattie is one being asked to step to the plate and offer up his share of the contributions.
"Obviously it's a different feel without players like Backes, Elliott and Brouwer here, but it's still a very good team, a team with expectations of winning a Stanley Cup every year," Rattie said. "I want to be a part of that. Us young guys, it's cool to be here together. We've come up and were drafted together. It's nice to be relied on a little bit. We've just got to show that they're putting the pressure on the right people.
"Every game I played before, I got more and more confident. I think confidence is the biggest part of this game, telling yourself you can be here, telling yourself you can play with these guys. Every time I came up, I got more and more confident. I'm confident around the boys and stuff. It's nice. I feel comfortable now. It's proving that I can be here and contribute every night."