Like many of those skating in the American Hockey League, Ty Rattie would much rather be plying his trade at the National Hockey League level.
But after leading a bit of a nomadic lifestyle last season, Rattie has settled in nicely in Bakersfield. The right winger leads the team in scoring with 19 points (10 goals, nine assists), and actually has an apartment to call home.
The last item is more than he had last season.
“It’s nice,” Rattie said of being established in one place. “Last year I was with three teams and living in hotels all the time.”
Rattie started the season with the St. Louis Blues, was sent down to Chicago at the AHL level and waived a week later. He was picked up by the Carolina Hurricanes and played played five games over a five-week period before being waived. St. Louis picked Rattie back up off waivers and immediately assigned him to Chicago where he played out the rest of the season.
Rattie, a second-round pick of the Blues in the 2011 draft, became a free agent after the end of the season and was signed to a one-year deal by Edmonton on July 1.
“Obviously, I was brought here to score goals and produce offensively and so far I think I’m helping out and doing my job there,” Rattie, 24 said.
Condors coach Gerry Fleming agreed that offense is Rattie’s forte.
“Offensively, he’s gifted, no doubt about it,” Fleming said. “He skates well. He sees the net. He’s a shooter. When he’s got the puck on his stick he creates some offense for us.”
But while Rattie leads the team in points, he ranks last amongst Condors forwards in plus/minus at minus-13.
“We’d like to see him, obviously, tighten up defensively,” Fleming said. “There’s a reason sometimes you’re down in the minors. It’s an area we’ve talked about, but offensively he’s a gifted player.”
For his part, Rattie knows he needs to clean up his defensive play.
“It’s tough to be an offensive guy and not think cheat and look for that offensive opportunity all the time but you just have to think if you take care of your D-zone those offensive chances will come in the O-zone,” Rattie said. “And when they do come you’ve got to capitalize cause this is a tough league. You’re not going to get the chances every night so when you get those grade-A chances they better be going into the net.”
Rattie has fired a team-high 69 shots on goal through 25 games, finding the back of the net 14.5 percent of the time, second-highest among players with 16 or more games. He’s been most effective on the power play where he has eight of his points — five goals, three assists.
“I’d like to see our 5-on-5 scoring increase and we’ve worked on a lot of drills around the net, just really simplifying our game offensively,” Fleming said. “Scoring with volumes of shots and coming down on pucks, picking up rebounds, shooting pucks from bad angles, not letting goaltenders get set.”
The Condors are averaging just 2.68 goals per game, 25th in the league, and reside in the basement of the Pacific Division, two games under .500, at 10-12-3-0.
The Condors have had a chance to get to .500 four times over the past eight games, only to lose and fall back to two games under.
“That’s tough,” Rattie said. “You get these weekend sets where we win one and we lose one and on Monday you’re right back to the same place you were on Thursday.”
The good news is the next three teams ahead of the Condors in the standings, including Thursday night’s opponent San Jose, are only two games ahead.
“There’s a lot of games left and we’re not far behind,” Rattie said. “The goal is to get into the playoffs. Once you get in the playoffs anything can happen.
“We’re right there. Teams we’ve lost to we know we can beat. It’s just a matter of stringing wins together and putting a streak together.”
Thursday night’s game against San Jose is the start of a four-game homestand, which would be a perfect time to string together some wins.
“Last weekend we played real well,” Rattie said. “If we continue to play like that it will come.”