This is one part of a player-by-player Year in Review series we’ll be doing over the next couple months as we look back on the 2017-18 Edmonton Oilers season.
2017-18 Edmonton Oilers No. 8: Ty Rattie
GP: 14 – G: 5, A: 4, PTS: 9
Ty Rattie might have found himself the dream role. Like Patrick Maroon before him, Rattie, in a small sample size, seems to have found chemistry alongside the best hockey player in the world.
Rattie was drafted by the St. Louis Blues with the 32nd overall pick in the 2011 NHL draft. He’s scored at every single level he’s played at. In Bantam, he set the Alberta record for points in a season with an obscene 131 points in 33 games. After that, he scored 79 points in 67 games with the Portland Winterhawks in his draft year. He followed that up with 121- and 110-point seasons in the WHL. In three seasons in the AHL, Rattie managed 48, 42, and 46 points.
Despite showing success at each level, Rattie was never really given an extended chance at the NHL level. He played 26 games over three seasons with the Blues before getting placed on waivers prior to the 2016-17 season. The Carolina Hurricanes would snag him and give him five games before losing him back to the Blues on waivers a few weeks later.
Last summer, the Oilers inked Rattie to a one-year, two-way deal to serve as AHL depth for the organization. I can’t imagine that Rattie playing a significant role with the team was in anybody’s plans heading into the 2017-18 season. But once things went sideways and Maroon was dealt to the New Jersey Devils at the trade deadline, Rattie was given a shot with the big club — and he ran with it.
Rattie was plugged in on the right side of Connor McDavid. In 14 games, he scored five goals and nine points. Prior to that, he had only scored 10 points in 35 career NHL games. That’s a pace of 49 points over the course of a 49-game season.
The key, of course, was Rattie getting a chance with McDavid and instantly finding some chemistry with him. That said, I don’t think Rattie was just some scrub along for the ride with McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He looked like a weapon in the offensive zone and played a role in contributing to a very effective line. Eight of his nine points came at even strength and eight of the nine were either goals or primary assists.
It’s difficult to dig into Rattie’s numbers because the sample size is simply too small. He was only up for 14 games. We know that he was good with McDavid in the 158:57 they played together at even strength. Are we even going to try to draw conclusions about the 34:10 he played without McDavid? Of course not.
In order to analyze Rattie, we have to rely on the eye test and what he gave us during his 14-game stint. Obviously, there isn’t much there to draw from, but he was certainly good enough to warrant another contract and a crack on the team to start the season.
Rattie isn’t a perfect player. He isn’t the greatest skater, he isn’t good at all defensively, and he only really does one thing. Fortunately for him, that one thing he does do is incredibly important. He generates offence. He has smooth hands, a good shot, a nose for the net, and strong instincts in the offensive zone. McDavid can make most players look good simply because he’s talented enough to create out of nothing. But Rattie, for all his faults, can actually keep up with McDavid in the offensive zone. He has the instincts and offensive awareness to be in the right spots to help McDavid generate offence rather than just being the benefactor of McDavid’s playmaking.
You’ll see that in the video I embedded above. A player without offensive instincts probably would have taken that pass from McDavid and fired it on the net. Instead, Rattie slowed it down, had his head up, and sauced a nice pass to Nugent-Hopkins for an easy goal.
Given Edmonton’s cap situation, they have to find cheap players who can be plugged in alongside McDavid on the top line. If Rattie can play like he did during that 14-game stretch to end the season, the Oilers will get more than enough value out of their $800k investment. If not, then, well, he can be buried in the minors and we can go back to the drawing board.