Oilers sign Rajala

This is Toni Rajala. The hard earned lessons of Jani Rita and Tony Salmelainen may help Rajala make an impact in the show. Word this morning from capgeek (my new favorite site) that the Oilers have signed the Finn to an entry level deal. He’ll play this season in Brandon (WHL) if his Finnish club team (Ilves) gives approval.

Rajala fell to #101 at the draft because of his lack of size, but the major scouting services had him mid-second round (Redline: 43, McKenzie: 50) and the Oilers have apparently moved quickly to protect an asset.

The scouting report reads “Rajala has been the focus of a lot of hype from a very young age. He has dominated every level he has played at in Finland and shown very well during international competitions. He had the most eyes looking his way at World U18 Championship he didn’t shy away but rather further pushed the spot light his way. Rajala needed to have a big tournament and do that he did, finishing with 19 pts in 6 games, eclipsing the previous U18 scoring record set by some kid named Ovechkin. He is said to be too small, but he is feisty and didn’t back down when challenged. He had a tremendous second half of the bronze game against Canada and was easily the best player on the ice for either team.”

The Oilers watched as Jani Rita died on the vine with 5 minutes a night playing for his SM-LIIGA squad after impressing at the various world junior tournaments. I think the club may have decided that with a player like Rajala the best way to ensure success was to have him playing in North America and with kids his own age. Unlike Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson (who played 11:13 a night in the SEL at 17), Rajala could easily get lost on a Finnish 4th line.

The contract will count against the 50 mission cap if Rajala played in 11 NHL games (same as Eberle). Not counting those two teenagers, the Oilers number stands at 45 this morning.

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46 Responses to "Oilers sign Rajala"

  1. gogliano says:

    Good news, and it sounds like he has his head on straight. A year playing NA hockey and then a year in Europe when he'll get more playing time should be enough time to see if he is worth an NHL shot.

  2. Steve says:

    Does that 45 figure include Grebeshkov/any other RFAs we have?

  3. gogliano says:

    Sorry I was referring to these comments:

    Rajala says basically in the story that:

    "It is a great feeling at the moment. I will play the next year in Brandon, WHL. It is possible that I will return after that to Tampere and Ilves for one year. I doubt that I will be NHL ready after one year."

    "I guess many people in Tampere are disappointed about my departure, but Brandon is not a bad option. I get to learn North American game style. I did not leave for money, because according to rules one can not get a lot of salary in a junior league."

    Translated by a poster named Phenomenon on HF.

    http://www.aamulehti.fi/uutiset/urheilu/

  4. Psyche says:

    Looking forward to seeing Rajala bring his skills to the WHL.

  5. Black Dog says:

    Steve – I would say the answer to that is yes

    some complaints about Tambellini but it should be remarked that in the case of fixing Springfield and dealing with the kids he seems to be acting quickly and with some idea of what he is doing.

    He also didn't dither when it came to addressing goaltending though you can certainly quibble with the overpay.

    I think this is a good thing.

  6. GF says:

    The Oilers are cognizant of giving youngsters ice time to develop, eh? Somewhere Jeff Deslauriers is laughing till he cries.

  7. uni says:

    I wish you'd said "…and that's a good thing".

    I'm excited to see what Rajalla can do in the WHL as well. He'll be exposed to the NA game early on and get lots of cracks at playing time so this is nothing but good news.

    I wonder if NHL teams can take out hefty insurance policies for young prospects as a way of enticing them to come over to NA junior. Come learn the NA game and if you get injured over here you get a nice little chunk of cash to help you along outside of the game.

    Not much I can do about watching WHL games (this is where kind posters who go to the games come in), but in the meantime it looks like I'll have to find some reliable feeds for Timra instead of Lulea for the upcoming season =).

  8. doritogrande says:

    Any chance he sees AHL action at the beginning of the season instead of being down in Brandon? Seems to me that if he absolutely blows the doors off training camp that it's a legitimate option for him. He won't be contractually obligated to Brandon until he reports to the Paris of the Praries. It's the same thing the Leaves did with Jiri Tlusty a couple of years previous.

    That way, Rob Schremp can be passed by another small skilled forward.

  9. Smarmy Boss says:

    Good news for Oilfans and Rajala, but goddamn I hate Brandon and they're stacked this year.

    Saskatoon will still kick their butts. :smug:

  10. Downright Fierce says:

    The Oilers are cognizant of giving youngsters ice time to develop, eh? Somewhere Jeff Deslauriers is laughing till he cries.

    That is the best thing I've ever read. Thank you.

  11. Smarmy Boss says:

    Whoa Dorito. Saskatoon has always been known as the Paris of the Prairies. Brandon is known as the… actually I have no idea what that dump is known as.

  12. doritogrande says:

    Smarmy Boss:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Np3MUxHTT6w

    How do you think Brandon's team got it's moniker?

  13. steve says:

    SB & DG : it's not really that clear.

    Milgard was from Brandon but the crime happened in Saskatoon. Not sure Downey has it straight in the song, especially when he follows it up with the wheat kings line.

    Also note that at various times Chicago, Winnipeg, and others have been proclaimed the Paris of the Prairies. I think Saskatoon has clung most tightly to this moniker since that song though.

    I think Brandon's current nickname would be "Wheat City" it's a nice enough place, serves as a hub for all the scattered ag communities in western MB.

  14. ian says:

    Rajala looks like the young Forensics guy on Law and Order SVU.
    He was in a couple of episodes and then went physcho

  15. Oilmaniac says:

    I dont get all this 'paris of the prairies'..

    Paris is nice, no?!..

    Those Prairie towns… um, just to be snobish,.. arnt..

    Where did this all begin? And why would these various towns be competing for a title soaked in sarcasim?

  16. Lowetide says:

    I've never been to Brandon so can't comment, but Saskatoon is a very nice city.

  17. steve says:

    with all due respect oilmaniac, you often find what you are looking for and see what you want to see.

  18. Oilmaniac says:

    Alright, well i deleted my last comment.. too negative.. Ill stand corrected, but yet still have no idea where/how the expression was developed… as i only see it in a sarcastic light…

    Steve, I guess thats how the expression for 'rose-coloured' glasses was developed…

    Am i wrong for not looking for Paris 'in the prairies'.. anyways, just being argumentative over nothing, apologies…

  19. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    Noticed your comment on capgeek LT. Whoever runs the site is amazing. They have the signings and dollar amounts much faster than TSN or any other sources. I wonder what his/her sources are because they're lightning fast.

  20. SK Oiler Fan says:

    Rajala's look reminds me of Dean Mcammond's draft picture from 1991:

    http://www.checkoutmycards.com/CardImages/Cards/007/706/05F.jpg

    Rajala may even turn out to be a similar player to Mcammond.

    Another smurf, but could be a streal of a pick.

  21. SK Oiler Fan says:

    Not sure why Blogger is cutting of the end of links. I had to seperate the link into two lines:

    http://www.checkoutmycards.com/CardImages
    /Cards/007/706/05F.jpg

  22. mc79hockey says:

    It's apparently owned by a guy named Matthew Wuest, who is a reporter in Halifax. It appears to be affiliated with Red Wings Central. If I was to guess, I'd guess that Mr. Wuest has a friend at either the NHL or NHLPA.

    As far as the Paris of the Prairies line goes, I don't necessarily think it means that it's actually like Paris. Everything's relative and, much as I love the prairies, it's a collection of small towns with wooden one story buildings. I used to refer to my undergrad school as the Harvard of Northern Ontario – doesn't mean that it's actually comparable to Harvard, only that everything's relative.

  23. mc79hockey says:

    And this is a cool link: http://www.hipmuseum.com/wheat.html

  24. doritogrande says:

    Goddammit. I have never been so tempted to completely spur the Oilers and become a Calgary fan as I have been this off-season.

    Poaches Bouwmeester from the rest of the league for an expiring contract, depth signings in Jaffray, Kronwall, and now we have word that they've claimed Nigel Dawes off waiver from Phoenix?

    Sutter is a brilliant man. Our GM, not so much.

  25. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    Thanks for the info Tyler.

  26. Lowetide says:

    dorito: How in hell could they get ANOTHER small F on this roster?

  27. Peter says:

    I only found 44 contracts, not including Eberle and Rajala. Are you sure it's 45?

  28. Lowetide says:

    Peter: Reddox is still listed at capgeek.

  29. rickibear says:

    What is real nice seeing all the stats sites change Rajala's height from 5'8" to 5'10"

    Plus seeing the names of the 6 2009Draft Eligble players in the top 10in scoring at the world u-18

    Rajala #1
    MPS #5
    D Amigo #7
    Erixon #10
    Lander #10
    Shore #10

    When you look at past IIHF lists it is a good success marker.

    2001 (5/10) NHL (3/10) KHL
    2002 (9/10) NHL (0/10) KHL
    2003 (7/10) NHL (3/10) KHL
    2004 (5/10) NHL (3/10) KHL
    2005 (5/10) NHL (3/10) KHL
    2006 (3/10) NHL (2/10) KHL
    200& (3/10) NHL (1/10) KHL

  30. bookie says:

    Goddammit. I have never been so tempted to completely spur the Oilers and become a Calgary fan as I have been this off-season.

    Poaches Bouwmeester from the rest of the league for an expiring contract, depth signings in Jaffray, Kronwall, and now we have word that they've claimed Nigel Dawes off waiver from Phoenix?

    Sutter is a brilliant man. Our GM, not so much.

    I would suggest waiting to see what Calgary does this year before you start planning your spot on the parade route. I am not convinced of Sutter's genius – remember that this is the guy that hired Mike Keenan.

    I think that the Flames will have more 'chemistry problems' this year and that they will continue to be mired in mediocrity. I totally admit that I cannot back that statement up with any meaningful data or facts, its just my gut speaking.

  31. doritogrande says:

    LT:

    It's quite simple really. You've already lost one shrimp in Reddox, you trade or bury Nilsson. And then just say no to Brule.

    You may think I'm insane, but I believe Dawes will have more of a career than Row-bert.

  32. Lowetide says:

    dorito: Well this could be a "Doug Sulliman has been traded to Hartford" moment for Dawes, but I'm fine with keeping Nilsson over him at this point.

    Did Dawes ever play tough opposition? Asking because I don't know.

    If it were a question of Schremp v Dawes then yes I'm certainly on board with you.

  33. geowal says:

    Alright, well i deleted my last comment.. too negative.. Ill stand corrected, but yet still have no idea where/how the expression was developed… as i only see it in a sarcastic light...

    Oilmaniac:

    Since it hasn't been stated explicitly yet, "Wheat Kings" is a tragically hip song, (which I always assumed referred to Brandon), and there is a line in there about the "Paris of the Prairies". Those expressions might have been around before, but that song certainly served to popularize the term a bit more.

    Incidentally I don't think Paris of the Prairies is meant sarcastically, it would only seem that way if you think it's not possible to have a particularly nice prairie city.

    I also think Saskatoon is nice. Haven't been to Brandon.

  34. rickibear says:

    Did Dawes ever play tough opposition? Asking because I don't know.

    He was one of eighteen players at his position who were even or better for QUAL Comp, +/-/60, and Corsi. ie. the 20-50 club.

  35. hunter1909 says:

    Is that an extra large net he's standing in front of?

    If not, he's about as tall at Davy Jones of the Monkees.

  36. quain says:

    I don't know what year rickibear is looking at because he was a minus player last year, but this is still a pretty good pickup. Calgary has two lines that can play tough minutes, so they can afford to find some cheap Nilsson-types and pray they show up in a sheltered role. I can't see anything that makes me think Dawes is a worse player than Nilsson, and he's not going to get near as much money.

    I don't think Sutter is an exceptional GM, but he's doing what you need to do: find guys who fit the make-up of the team and might outperform their contracts. I'd have major respect for him if he didn't sign Phaneuf to a horrendous contract, run Kipper into the ground every year, and trade a real player in Lombardi for Jokinen.

  37. Peter says:

    Quain I totally agree. The way they've handled Kipper, and even more so the trading of Lombardi(a great 2-way guy with a cheap contract)for Jokinen shows that he isn't much of a genius. The Dawes pick-up is definitely a good move though. I just don't think Calgary has the juice up front anymore. Other than Iginla, you really don't know what you're getting from the rest of their 'impact' forwards – maybe that's unfair though, because the truth is that they don't have any impact forwards outside of Iginla. Jokinen and Langkow are good players, but based on their stats, which have gone down 2 years in a row (Langkow's sharply), they are in decline.

  38. rickibear says:

    Quain: when i stripped the EV data from behind the net at year end my table says -0.00 for +/-. But you are correct he was -.24/60 according to the site.

  39. Abu says:

    I think the Paris the Hip meant was Saskatoon (which I had always understood to be the original Paris of the Prairies) since the song is about David Milgaard, who was convicted for murder in Saskatoon.

    Of course, he was from Winnipeg, so maybe that just muddies the waters.

  40. alphahelix says:

    that net does look huge, doesn't it?

  41. Jfry says:

    i live in calgary and constantly hear about the genius of sutter from all my friends. while it's easy to criticize sutter for his big game hunting at the sacrifice of development players (reminds me a lot of the oil in that way), his real forte has been finding players in the 1.2m category that constantly outperform their contracts: moss, bourque, glennX…i'm sure dawes will quickly join that group.

    i can't wait to see rajala.

  42. Jfry says:

    also, to people loving lombardi…he was only a "decent nhl player" for one 40 game stretch so far in his career. he looks to be gooder, but saying that trading him for jokinen was bad is a little short sighted i think.

    LT always talks about "real NHL players" of which gagne and cogs aren't yet…lombo's only had one season where he hinted at being a complete player. i don't view that as a bad trade for them at all, especially considering they were able to dump vandy on PHX and get dawes from them later…looks to me like Sutter has had his way with the yotes, with lombo being the real only loss.

  43. MattM says:

    Jfry:

    Hating on that Jokinen trade has as much to do with Jokinen himself as Lombardi. Sure, there's some love for Lombardi in that (I think a lot of us read Kent W's Flames stuff, and he liked the guy), but there's also a lot of hate for Jokinen as the quintessential guy who is terribly overrated by conventional statistics, going back to his big seasons in Florida.

    Or maybe that's just me.

  44. spOILer says:

    Anyone heard any word out of Camp Mendelbaum this summer? Seems quiet down there in Venice Beach, other than the Rachel/Jarret split.

    Is there still a Camp Mendelbaum with MacT gone? If so, is Pouliot there? Will Rachel Hunter still be leading the Aqua-cizes?

  45. Jfry says:

    @mattM :: it seems like all the big tickets have warts lately…i won't argue that.

    and last year i grew to really like lombo…

    if i were a flames fan i'd have a slightly conflicted feeling about it, much like oil fans will be conflicted over Heater (if he comes).

    it's always a shame to send out guys you've invested serious development time into.

    also, with regards to jokinen's stats in FLA…i'm really curious to see JBO in the NW…

  46. misfit says:

    I don't get all the talk about the Jokinen trade being so bad either. Even with his faults, Jokinen is still far and away the best player in the deal. Lombardi has never been anything special, and wans't it a 2010 1st rounder (ie. low 1st in a poor draft)? Plus, they got a 3rd back. Say what you want about Jokinen, but surely he's worth at least that.

    Then again, I don't get the response on the Pronger trade either. The Ducks got the same return we did, and it was a disaster for us.

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