Ty Rattie scored five goals in the final 12 games last season. He’d scored four goals in his first 37 NHL games over four seasons between St.Louis and Carolina. Rattie’s hockey sense got him a look on Connor McDavid’s right wing late last season, and he took advantage of it.
Life is all about opportunity. You don’t know when a great opportunity will arise, but we all hope we are ready to take advantage of it when it does. Rattie had the luxury of a five month span, mid-April to mid-September, to do everything in his power to ensure he would capitalize on a possible career, and life altering, situation.
Rattie was on the ice this summer more than he’d ever been before. “I worked on my cardio more than other summer,” said Rattie. “If I get the chance to play with Connor (McDavid) and Nuge (Nugent-Hopkins), I know my job will be to get them the puck. I worked on getting the puck out of the corners and knocking down pucks,” Rattie told me when we spoke before training camp.
He worked on his shot and puck skills as well, but he’s always been confident in those areas. He scored 121 and 110 points in his final two seasons in the WHL, and he was drafted as a scorer. He scored 31 goals as a 20-year-old rookie in the AHL and many felt it was only a matter of time before he’d be scoring in the NHL.
Six years later and now with his third NHL organization, Rattie is still striving to be a regular NHL player, but his scoring instincts never left him. He admitted at the end of last season he needed to be in better shape. He wasn’t in bad shape, but, “If I want to keep up to top guys in the NHL, I need to improve my conditioning,” he said.
HERE AND NOW
With four goals and seven points in two preseason games, Rattie has made it clear he wants the chance to open the season on McDavid’s right wing. Three of his four goals have come without McDavid on the ice. He isn’t just scoring because the reigning two-time NHL scoring leader is passing him the puck. Rattie has grabbed the headlines because of his play, but now the question is: What is Rattie capable of in the regular season?
There is a big difference between preseason and the regular season — we all know it — but you can’t just ignore Rattie’s production. We should look at what are realistic expectations for him.
Two weeks ago, many questioned if Rattie should even be on McDavid’s wing, and now I’m hearing, “If he doesn’t score 50 points it is a fail.” It seems some people’s expectations can change quickly.
It is very difficult to predict what Rattie will do.
Maybe he will this season’s Yanni Gourde. Gourde scored 25 goals and 64 points with Tampa Bay last year when he was essentially a 26-year-old rookie. He’d played 22 NHL games prior to that. Gourde is an outlier, but there are others who have developed later in their career, and maybe Rattie is one of them.
What would constitute a good season? The closest comparable recent player to McDavid is Sidney Crosby, who was the best player in the NHL for a decade. So I looked at Crosby’s seasons when he played over 1,000 minutes at 5×5. I wanted to see what type of production his linemates had. Crosby’s had seven seasons of 1,000+ EV minutes. All stats courtesy of Naturalstattrick.com.
YEAR 5X5 TOI G-A-PTS
2009 1114:28 20-32-52
Most frequent linemates: Pascal Dupuis (421 minutes), Evgeni Malkin (366) and Miroslav Satan (347). Malkin had 20 points when on the ice with Crosby, Dupuis had 13 and Satan had 12. Overall that season Malkin had 113 points, Satan had 36 and Dupuis had 28. Crosby finished the season with 102. He had 40 PP points.
2010 1175:06 33-33-66
Most frequent linemates: Bill Guerin (626), Chris Kunitz (445) and Pascal Dupuis (335). Guerin had 20 points, Kunitz had 18 and Dupuis had 17 with Crosby. That season Guerin had a total of 45 points, Dupuis had 38 and Kunitz had 32 (in 50 games). Crosby finished with 109.
2014 1272:25 20-35-55
Most common linemates: Kunitz (1,028) and Dupuis (419 in 39 games). No other winger played more than 180 minutes with Crosby. It was a constant rotation on the right side after Dupuis was injured. Kunitz had 40 points with Crosby and Dupuis had 17. Kunitz finished the season while Dupuis had 20 in 39 games. Crosby had 104 points.
2015 1134:04 16-29-45
Most common linemates: Kunitz (578), Patrick Hornqvist (515 in 64 games) and David Perron (444 in 43 games). Hornqvist had 19 points, Kunitz had 14 and Perron had 13 playing with Crosby. Hornqvist had a total of 51 points that season while Kunitz had 40 and Perron had 22 in 43 games with the Penguins. Crosby had 84 points.
2016 1209:52 18-33-51
Most frequent linemates: Kunitz (768), Hornqvist (679) and Phil Kessel (193). Hornqvist had 26 points, Kunitz had 25 points and Kessel had four. Kunitz finished the season with 51 points, Hornqvist had 40 while Kessel had 59. Kessel produced at a better rate without Crosby, funny enough. Crosby had 85 points.
2017 1117:22 26-24-50
Most common linemates: Conor Sheary (696), Hornqvist (311) and Jake Guentzel (308 in 40 games). Sheary had 33 points, Guentzel had 15 points and Hornqvist had 10 points. Guentzel had solid production as a rookie and fit in well with Sheary and Crosby. Sheary finished with 53 points, Hornqvist had 44 and Guentzel had 33. Crosby produced 89.
2018 1265:43 12-23-35
Most common linemates: Guentzel (653), Sheary (515) and Bryan Rust (395). Guentzel had 17 points, Sheary had 13 and Rust had seven. Guentzel finished with 48 points, Rust had 38 and Sheary potted 30. Crosby had 92.
So in the seven seasons where he has played 1,000 or more 5×5 minutes only once did a linemate score 40 points with him and that was Kunitz in 2014 when he was for 80% of Crosby’s 5×5 time. Sheary had 33 points and Dupuis had 17 in 40 games, which prorates to 34. So even scoring 30 EV points with Crosby was rare.
McDavid has had two seasons of 1000+ 5×5 minutes.
2017 1315:28 21-42-63
His most common linemates: Patrick Maroon (734), Leon Draisaitl (676), Milan Lucic (451) and Jordan Eberle (403). Maroon had 27 points, Draisaitl had 25, Eberle had 15 and Lucic had 11. Draisaitl finished the season with 77 points, Eberle had 51, Lucic had 50 and Maroon had 42. McDavid finished with 100 points.
It is interesting to note McDavid basically played with four wingers all season. Not once in Crosby’s career did he have four wingers who each played 400+ minutes with him.
2018 1343:28 30-41-71
Most common linemates: Maroon (523 in 57 games), Draisaitl (498), Lucic (419), Puljujarvi (256). Draisaitl had 22 points, Maroon had 16, Lucic had ten and Puljujarvi had eight. Draisaitl finished the season with 70 points, Lucic had 34, Maroon had 30 (with Edmonton) and Puljujarvi had 20. McDavid produced 108 points.
The sentiment that playing with McDavid should guarantee Rattie 50 points is incredibly far-fetched. When Draisaitl scored 77 points, just under one-third of them came from playing 5×5 with McDavid. They also played on the PP together and 3×3, but at this point Rattie isn’t on the first unit PP and I don’t see him getting 3×3 time ahead of Nugent-Hopkins or Draisaitl.
When you look at those nine seasons of Crosby and McDavid, you realize how few players have scored even 30 points at 5×5 playing with those two players.
It is just as rare a player plays 700 EV minutes as a linemate. McDavid and Crosby have never had two linemates play 700 minutes at 5×5 with them in the same season. Right now most, including me, assume Nugent-Hopkins is more likely to play more with McDavid than Rattie. Of course, that could change, but the odds both of them play 700 5×5 minutes with McDavid are low.
So even if Rattie plays a lot with McDavid at 5×5, it would still be difficult to score 40 points. It is possible, for sure, but any talk of an expected 50-point season by Rattie, just because he plays with McDavid, is a bit premature in my eyes.
Admittedly, I love the underdog, or the unexpected breakout season. It would be great for Rattie if he can finally become a regular NHL player, and produce solid numbers.
But two weeks ago many felt the Oilers RW was their biggest weakness, yet after scoring seven points in two preseason games, suddenly the refrain is, “If he can’t score 45-50 points playing with McDavid, he is a bum.”
If he does score 40 points at 5×5 with McDavid, that would be outstanding for him and the Oilers, especially if you are already expecting Nugent-Hopkins to score a lot with McDavid. For now, Rattie, is showing signs he belongs in the top RW spot.