RAJALA

Among the young OKC forwards who are in their entry level deals (Oiler draft division), Toni Rajala is emerging as the most promising offensive player. The problem? There’s absolutely no room.

Here are the offensive totals for the entry level forwards on the Barons:

  1. Rajala 29, 9-16-25
  2. Cornet 29, 10-12-22
  3. Martindale 29, 5-8-13
  4. Lander 39, 3-7-10
  5. Pelss 17, 1-7-8
  6. Hamilton 48, 3-3-6
  7. Tyrvainen 25, 3-2-5
  8. Pitlick 32, 1-4-5
  9. Abney 4, 0-0-0

In his last 23 games, he is 8-15-23 and 6-12-18 at even strength. That’s a pretty impressive number for a young player like Rajala (21), and according to Jim Byers (OKC pbp man) and Neal Livingston (Tend the Farm) the young man is a big part of the current Baron offense.

Rajala could end up being a hidden gem, somewhat similar to Andrei Loktionov who is now playing in New Jersey. Rajala is blocked from what I can see in the Edmonton organization, but may get a chance elsewhere when his entry level deal expires.

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40 Responses to "RAJALA"

  1. lazerguidedmelody says:

    Another Omark?

  2. "Steve Smith" says:

    Among the young OKC forwards who are in their entry level deals (Oiler draft division), Toni Rajala is emerging as the most promising offensive player. The problem? There’s absolutely no room.

    The other problem is that he’s probably good enough to be an NHL regular, unless he’s also becoming an elite checker down there without our noticing it.

    I’m cheering like hell for the guy, and I’ll bet he gets a double-digit number of NHL games in over the course of his career, which is a stellar accomplishment for a munchkin drafted outside the top 100, but he’s basically tinier and more Finnish (and therefore more awesome, admittedly) Vladimir Vorobiev.

    (Everybody remembers Vladimir Vorobiev, right? He was a point per game player for the Oilers.)

  3. Thiru says:

    You’d hate for this to end up as our Grabovski move.

    Not sure what type of player Rajala projects to be, but a near PPG pace at 21 in the 2nd best league in the world is real impressive.

    Exactly the type of player the Wings would break in on the 3rd or 4th line, in a sheltered role, after a year and a bit of dominating the A.

  4. BlacqueJacque says:

    I remember seeing him at the 2010 development camp, and thought he was the most effective forward after Eberle. Paajarvi looked passive and Hall was sloppy/sleepy on the final day. Vande Velde was up there, too, but I was disappointed given his age.

    Rajala was tiny then. Definitely not 5’10, probably under 5’9, and maybe 155lbs soaking wet. He wasn’t just short, his frame was small. Man, he had wheels and skills though. Passing, stickhandling, even a decent wrister. Tougher to knock off the puck in open ice than you’d think, but along the boards he was predictably helpless – unless retrieving the puck with his stick. Very quick hands.

  5. stevezie says:

    He’s forced himself into the conversation, but not the league. I’m fine with him staying down there and proving he can continue to produce. Krogs and Girouxs might not always stick, but they do get a shot.

  6. leadfarmer says:

    Good for him and Cornet. Looks like their salvaging their season. The rest of the guys are duds though.

  7. Melman says:

    I think the only way a guy that size can make it in the NHL is to be Derek Roy good or have BLAZING speed like Cogliano. See Jordan Schroeder in Van. who went to the net the first bunch of games and ended up on his arse each time, then stayed high slot (his choice or the coach’s?), and couldn’t get anything there except a trip back to the A. Skating about on the 3rd line in Detroit with their puck wizards might work but the reality is there is room for about 6 guys that size in the league. I’m happy to cheer for him and hope he’s one of them…somewhere

  8. "Steve Smith" says:

    Melman:
    I think the only way a guy that size can make it in the NHL is to be Derek Roy good or have BLAZING speed like Cogliano.

    That’s my initial reaction, too; I’m curious if there are any examples of guys Rajala’s size being drafted where he was and going on to have NHL careers (I mention draft pedigree just because it seems to me that anybody with the skill necessary to overcome the lack of size would have been a high-ish pick).

  9. striatic says:

    stevezie: He’s forced himself into the conversation, but not the league. I’m fine with him staying down there and proving he can continue to produce. Krogs and Girouxs might not always stick, but they do get a shot.

    agreed. it has only been half a season.

    also, there will be room after the Oilers move Hemsky.

  10. Melman says:

    “Steve Smith”,

    Quick peek and I found a few: Gerbe in Buf being one Atkinson for CBJ (who just blew his shoulder for the year – hey the Oil and CBJ in sync again!), but the other guys Conacher, Deharnais + + look like they were undrafted guys or they went first roundish.

    Too bad, because I’d bet more Rajalas and fewer Petrells would make for a more entertaining league.

  11. Woodguy says:

    He’s the exact player David Poile picks up as a thrown in or a 5th.

    Haha, just read that you equated him to Lokionov and Lou picked him up for a 5th.

    Then they score enough to play in the NHL for a while.

    Rajala is a RW according to hockeydb.com

    On the Oiers he’s behind Eberle, Hemsky, Yakupov, Ryan

    That’s not a line up he’s gonna crack.

    Might crack another NHL line up and a smart Gm will pick him up for a pick that has 12.84% of playing in the NHL for a player whose NHLE suggestes he might play a few years.

  12. "Steve Smith" says:

    Melman:
    “Steve Smith”,

    Quick peek and I found a few: Gerbe in Buf being one Atkinson for CBJ (who just blew his shoulder for the year – hey the Oil and CBJ in sync again!)

    Thanks for that; those do appear to be relevant examples, although both are listed as shorter and heavier than Rajala, which maybe suggests more strength. They’re also both Boston College alumni, but I have no reason to ascribe significance to that.

    Rajala’s in his fourth post-draft season. Both Gerbe and Atkinson got NHL games in that season. Gerbe scored at a slightly better clip than Rajala in his AHL time that season, too, although Atkinson scored somewhat worse. Just from the boxcars, Atkinson appears to be much more of a sniper than either Rajala or Gerbe, but Gerbe’s boxcars suggest a similar-ish, if maybe slightly better, player to Rajala.

    Maybe there’s hope after all; like I said, I’ll be cheering like hell for him. And even if there’s virtually no chance, players like this are worth fourth round picks ten times out of ten.

  13. Melman says:

    Woodguy,

    Ah but then that smart GM has to listen to howls of “you’re trading away all our picks”. Crazy – look at Mike Brown – drafted in the 5th, traded once for a 5th and now again for a conditional 4th. I’d argue that using a 4/5th for a guy who is a proven player like Brown or has a NHLE that suggests he’s a better gamble than 12.84% is an excellent use of that pick.

    Skimming through the teams FLA has some nice young assets up the middle – I wonder if you could pry something out of them. Too bad Goc has 1 more year, he’d be nice on our 4th right now

  14. rickithebear says:

    His current ahl evpt pace makes him 33 even poits per season in the NHL.

    Hate to have that on our team. For less than 5M per year.

  15. eidy says:

    He was a great pick that year. Redline had him 34 and iss at 31. Mckenzie had him at 50.

    He reminds me of hudler. Scoring at about the same rate in the ahl as well(minus hudlers breakout year)

  16. sliderule says:

    Martin St Louis. In his first AHL season at age 23 got a point a game .He is listed at 5ft8and 180 at age 37. He was probably a lot less than thatweight at age23.

    Rajala is listed at 5ft10 163lbs. He would have to muscle up to 180 lbs to have much of a chance in the NHL .

  17. speeds says:

    “Steve Smith”: That’s my initial reaction, too; I’m curious if there are any examples of guys Rajala’s size being drafted where he was and going on to have NHL careers (I mention draft pedigree just because it seems to me that anybody with the skill necessary to overcome the lack of size would have been a high-ish pick).

    A guy like Gaudreau might be one to follow.

    How about Datsyuk*? 6th round pick, drafted at age 20. He’s quite a bit bigger now, but not sure how big he was when drafted.

    By no means do I think Rajala will turn into Datsyuk, but Datsyuk hit the NHL at 23, Rajala is 21.

    Is it conceivable that Rajala puts on some muscle in the next year or two and cracks the NHL in some fashion?

  18. Captain Obvious says:

    Loktionov was almost a point a game player in the AHL as a 20 year old. I can’t believe NJ got him for a fifth round pick. We sure could use that guy.

  19. gogliano says:

    Would like to see him called up once we’re officially eliminated from the playoffs, even if it is only a couple games or so. A couple games of NHL pay would be a nice reward for a pretty impressive season.

    Looks like a tweener but he is young enough and has come far enough along that further progression might make him a bona fide 3/4th liner (three scoring lines!1!).

  20. VanOil says:

    Woodguy:

    On the Oiers he’s behind Eberle, Hemsky, Yakupov, Ryan

    For a counter point. I see 3 players above that are better than Rajala right now. Hemsky and Ryan may both be gone by the trading deadline next year if not this year. Rajala is still on his ETL next year.

    RK likes specialist on the fourth line. You know guy’s such as a knuckle chucker or PK dynamo, which are other wise useless. Why not a guy who’s specialty is scoring goals, sure he might be to thin to cycle the puck like a Hartikainen. Surely a having the a guy who can put the puck in the net is of some value, it is a specialty that might win a game or two.

    I realize the answer is: BUT OILERS. But allow me to dream should Rajala dominate AHL scoring in up to the trading deadline next year, which it appears he maybe able to do, bring him up. Because the BUTT OILERS currently on the 4th line are more likely to score with there BUTTs than there hands.

  21. Woodguy says:

    Melman,

    Ah but then that smart GM has to listen to howls of “you’re trading away all our picks”.

    Smart GM’s only listen to other people they think are smart.

    I don’ think Rajala is a NHL difference maker, but he might score 50 over 3 or 4 years there.

  22. jp says:

    Captain Obvious:
    Loktionov was almost a point a game player in the AHL as a 20 year old.I can’t believe NJ got him for a fifth round pick.We sure could use that guy.

    Right, but that was as good as it got. He’s career 95-22-53-75 in the AHL. 66-13-38-51 this year and last. Rajala’s scoring at a better pace this year. There’s not much in his past stats to suggest Loktionov is going to keep scoring at the NHL level. Maybe he does, and hopefully Rajala is even better, but I don’t see much to get overly excited about here.

  23. VanOil says:

    In out of town scoreboard news; the mighty Leafs are being smacked around by there lofty PDO. They face the Jets on HNIC Saturday. If the Jets win they over take the Leafs for the 8th spot in the East. The center of the universe might implode, again. I bet it is because they are missing Brown. Do you think they would take him back for that AHL defenseman they won’t call up, he might have some chemistry here with an old college buddy.

  24. Captain Happy says:

    VanOil:
    In out of town scoreboard news; the mighty Leafs are being smacked around by there lofty PDO. They face the Jets on HNIC Saturday. If the Jets win they over take the Leafs for the 8th spot in the East. The center of the universe might implode, again. I bet it is because they are missing Brown. Do you think they would take him back for that AHL defenseman they won’t call up, he might have some chemistry here with an old college buddy.

    You didn’t watch the game, did you?

    The Leafs outplayed the Penguins (outshot them 29-28) but were done in by a lucky goal and an EN.

    Brown wouldn’t have made a whit of a difference.

  25. bookje says:

    Captain Happy,

    Woooooshhh

  26. Lois Lowe says:

    If the Oilers are ever going to follow the Detroit model (LOL!) then Rajala stays in the AHL for two or three seasons working on his game and biding his time. For all of the talk on this blog about being patient with the prospects, it sure doesn’t seem like anyone’s willing to actually do that. Maybe Rajala is a Filppula, but no one will know until he’s had a real chance to establish himself in the AHL over a full season or two.

  27. Amadeus says:

    How do the Canucks stay under the Salary Cap next year?
    About $4M in Cap Space with a Roster of 14.
    They have to trade a goalie and defenseman, right? Right?

  28. VanOil says:

    Captain Happy,

    No, your right I did not watch the game. I just checked the standings. I also do not believe that even Harold Ballard would have been crazy enough to trade Brown for Gardner. Agreed the Brown trade has had made a whit of difference to either Clubs recent performance. Do you think the learned experts at HNIC will see it that way if Winnipeg beats the Leafs Saturday?

  29. bookje says:

    Danny/LT – More on the Iphone issue – it seems to me like I can successfully post when the number of comments is small (20 or less, 200-220 also works) but once the number of comments grow, whenever I go to post on the iphone, it crashes. This happens even when I allow the phone loads of time to load all comments before trying to comment myself.

  30. Thiru says:

    Melman:
    I think the only way a guy that size can make it in the NHL is to be Derek Roy good or have BLAZING speed like Cogliano.See Jordan Schroeder in Van. who went to the net the first bunch of games and ended up on his arse each time, then stayed high slot (his choice or the coach’s?), and couldn’t get anything there except a trip back to the A.Skating about on the 3rd line in Detroit with their puck wizards might work but the reality is there is room for about 6 guys that size in the league.I’m happy to cheer for him andhope he’s one of them…somewhere

    Schoeder hasn’t been the same kind of scorer in the AHL as Rajala:

    Age 19: 09/10 9 P in 11 GP
    Age 20: 10/11 28 P in 61 GP
    Age 21: 11/12 44 P in 76 GP
    Age 22: 12/13 21 P in 31 GP

    Hudler was close to a PPG as a 19(!) year old in the AHL.

    Rajala at 21 seems like he might be on the right track.

    I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that Rajala becomes a good 2 way player, provided that they develop him properly; Marchant and York were great/good defensively, and they certainly weren’t hulking brutes.

    Another full season in the AHL after this one, and then we see what he’s got.

  31. stevezie says:

    bookje:
    Captain Happy,

    Woooooshhh

    Oh shit son! You just onomonopiad that fool!

  32. bendelson says:

    bookje:
    Danny/LT – More on the Iphone issue – it seems to me like I can successfully post when the number of comments is small (20 or less, 200-220 also works) but once the number of comments grow, whenever I go to post on the iphone, it crashes.This happens even when I allow the phone loads of time to load all comments before trying to comment myself.

    Having the same challenges with the iPhone and iPad.
    Also finding the text blurs with any attempt to magnify. The photos and related captions don’t blur… Just the text.

    (This was posted on an iPad after several unsuccessful attempts)

  33. Clay says:

    sliderule:
    Martin St Louis. In his first AHL season at age 23got a point a game .He is listed at 5ft8and 180 at age 37. He was probably a lot less than thatweight at age23.

    Rajala is listedat 5ft10 163lbs. He would have to muscle up to 180 lbs to have much of a chance in the NHL .

    St. Louis was my first thought for a small guy who beat the odds. The guy’s a beast though – apparently squats 400lbs +.

    Gionta was 82nd overall in ’98. He’s Rajala’s size.

    Sami Kapanen was 85th overall in ’95, played 831 games. 5’8″, 165lbs.

  34. slopitch says:

    He’s tony samelienen (sp?). Trade him for spacek!

  35. RickDeckard says:

    Amadeus,

    Ballard will probably be bought out and Luongo traded.

  36. Marc says:

    St Louis is to undersized forwards what Lucic is to coke machines – the successful outlier.

    Teams keep drafting guys hoping they’ll be the next St Louis or Lucic, and ignoring the fact that forwards shorter than 5’10” and guys who can’t score in junior rarely turn into NHL players.

  37. uni says:

    You know what the best part about Andrei Loktionov is? He was acquired for a 5th round draft pick this year.

    The Edmonton Oilers trade those for Mike Brown.

    The Edmonton Oilers also gave up Kyle Brodziak AND a 6th for a 4th and a 5th round pick.

    One day we’ll have a real GM, one day.

  38. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Marc:
    St Louis is to undersized forwards what Lucic is to coke machines – the successful outlier.

    Teams keep drafting guys hoping they’ll be the next St Louis or Lucic, and ignoring the fact that forwards shorter than 5’10” and guys who can’t score in junior rarely turn into NHL players.

    I completely agree with this. We ought to curb any enthusiasm about either small scoring forwards or hulking coke machines.

    But that reasonable position is not mutually exclusive to noting that rules all have exceptions and the fact that we can readily drop the names of successful exceptions means that we should also be cautious about dismissing, for example a Rajala or a Moroz.

    The odds are against them, no doubt. But any responsible steward of their development is going to have to push them past the odds and help and cheer for them along the way.

  39. gcw_rocks says:

    With Chris Kelly out indefintely, what do you think or trading Whitney and Belanger for Boston’s 1st round pick? Boston is a legit contender and they have history of trading 1st round picks for players of questionable value (Kaberle) when gearing up for a Cup run.

  40. stevezie says:

    gcw_rocks,

    I think it is a beautiful dream.

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