RAJALA RISING

When we’re making a list of prospects who will/would benefit from a lockout ending, Toni Rajala might be near the top of the list. The young man from Finland is putting together an impressive run in northern California.

Playing in front of  a big crowd last night in San Jose, Rajala scored three goals and led his Stockton Thunder to victory. The story along with some nice quotes is here. Rajala is now 19, 16-12-28 in the ECHL and 5, 1-1-2 in OKC. The linked-to article suggests he would have been with the Barons now save for injury.

  • Ironically, Rajala would not have been in San Jose at all if not for a recent wrist injury that caused him to miss three consecutive games last week. Thomas said Rajala would have been recalled by the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League before Monday’s game if not for the injury.

In my recent prospect review, I had Rajala at #26, and posted:

  • #26 L Toni Rajala 18, 13-12-25 (ECHL) and 5, 1-1-2 (AHL) has made an impression and one gets the feeling the small forward will get a push if and when the stars return to the NHL. I don’t think the Oilers will let him go back to Europe without a full AHL season.

I’m not certain where Rajala would slot in OKC when the stars head north. The club has Phil Cornet, Rajala, Curtis Hamilton, Tyler Pitlick and Kristians Pelss available among AHL prospects, plus veterans like Dane Byers and of course Magnus Paajarvi or Teemu Hartikainen may not start in the NHL right away (my guess is Hartikainen makes the Oilers, Paajarvi too if there’s an injury).

Rajala’s big problem remains size. The ECHL site says he’s 5.10, 163 and lord knows what the actual numbers are before the PR department gets a look at them. The Oilers already have more than their share of average-to-small forwards on the skill lines, so Rajala would have to light up the AHL for a long time before moving ahead of other prospects.

Still, unlike several men vying for NHL futures, Rajala is actually delivering offense. I suspect the ECHL time has been a blessing for him, and perhaps players like Pitlick and Hamilton would do well to spend time in northern California in order to find the range.

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6 Responses to "RAJALA RISING"

  1. jp says:

    I think he’ll work his way into the OKC top 6 if/when the lockout ends. I don’t think the job will be handed to him, but he’s looked ready for AHL action and I think he’ll earn the spot before too long. NHL employment though will be tough with his size, but you never know I guess.

  2. regwald says:

    That puts Rajala tied for 12th in ECHL scoring with the players in front of him playing significantly more games.

    Player Team GP G A PTS PIM
    1 Chad Costello Colorado Eagles 27 14 35 49 30
    2 Jack Combs Colorado Eagles 27 19 23 42 22
    3 Justin Dowling Idaho Steelheads 27 9 29 38 12
    4 Casey Pierro-Zabotel Gwinnett Gladiators 28 9 23 32 6
    5 Michael Forney Colorado Eagles 26 17 14 31 35
    6 C.J. Stretch Ontario Reign 25 15 16 31 51
    7 Dan DaSilva Ontario Reign 25 11 20 31 28
    8 Joey Crabb Alaska Aces 27 12 18 30 48
    9 Mathieu Roy Florida Everblades 26 10 20 30 35
    10 Brandon Marino Fort Wayne Komets 25 9 21 30 18
    11 Brandon Wong Greenville Road Warriors 29 11 18 29 13
    12 Nick Mazzolini Alaska Aces 28 17 11 28 16
    13 Toni Rajala Stockton Thunder 19 16 12 28 6
    14 Colton Yellow Horn Ontario Reign 25 16 11 27 12
    15 Kael Mouillierat Idaho Steelheads 19 14 13 27 29

  3. Zipdot says:

    Toni Rajala = The Finnish Martin St. Louis. Nuff said.

    Off topic, I chuckled at this quote from Colton Teubert:

    Colten Teubert broke through with his second goal of the year at 17:34. Teubert poked the puck in from the top of the crease to give Oklahoma City a 3-0 lead.

    “Obviously I was in the rush,” Teubert said. “I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I just figured just throw the puck on net because I knew a couple of guys were out there. (Chris VandeVelde) made a nice tip, and I just went to the kitchen and put it home.”

  4. jonrmcleod says:

    Is Rajala the new Omark?

  5. uni says:

    Just for shits and giggles I’d love to see lines of:
    Omark Lander Pajaarvi
    Petrell Rajala Hartikainen

    jonrmcleod,

    Rajala has a lot of similarities to Omark, though the latter is more talented at this point in time. People tend to forget that Omark didn’t have his breakout season until he was 22, and Rajala currently sits at 21. Rajala was always a draft and follow prospect anyway, no one reasonably expected him to be anywhere close to a NHL audition until the 5 year mark, i.e. around 23 if at all.

    As an aside if Rajala ever makes it to the show, it can only be a good thing that Generette is retired. I can only cringe at what that man would do to that name if Rajala ever got traded to Buffalo and scored them a goal.

  6. nelson88 says:

    uni,

    Imo Rajala is actually more talented then Omark but more slight of build and has a different style of game (much easier to knock of the puck). He has a tough row to hoe and particularly with the skill the Oilers have on the wing but I would bet he plays at least 100 NHL games with some organization. The kid can score goals.

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