The Edmonton Oilers made an unusual move this morning, placing prospect Toni Rajala on waivers for the purpose of buying him out. The head scratching move appears to be a reaction to the player’s request to play back home in Europe (Finland?) and the organization’s desire to clear him from their 50-man list. It seemed like just this morning I was singing his praises!
I had Rajala at #9 on the summer top 30, and logic would have dictated that the young Finn would have played a major role in OKC, possibly even receiving a callup to the NHL. In the blink of an eye, his Oiler career is over. Strange.
The only way I can make sense of this transaction:
- Rajala requested that he play this coming season in Europe (Jim Matheson tweeted this out earlier today)
- The Oilers had no plans to re-sign him after this season
I don’t agree with the idea that Rajala has no NHL potential, and am surprised the Oilers made this move. It does give us an indication (I believe) that the organization is going to be bigger at the AHL level this coming season. The wingers slotted for AHL employment this fall are below with height and weight:
- Ben Eager 6.02 236
- Ryan Hamilton 6.02 230
- Eric Lizon 6.04 225*
- Curtis Hamilton 6.02 214
- Austen Fyten 6.02 210*
- Ryan Martindale 6.03 207
- Kale Kessy 6.03 202
- Cameron Abney 6.05 200
- Tyler Pitlick 6.02 196
- Jujhar Khaira 6.03 195
- Travis Ewanyk 6.02 192
- Derek Nesbitt 6.00 185*
Lizon, Fyten and Nesbitt are on AHL (Baron) contracts, but the rest of the wingers above will be Oilers/Barons should they survive training camp cuts this fall. The Oiler adds over the summer (Ryan Hamilton, Kale Kessy, Jujhar Khaira, Travis Ewanyk) are all physical players and that does appear to be a focus for the Barons this year. Their centermen (Arcobello, Andrew Miller) are undersized but the wingers are going to be bigger this year.
If Matty’s tweet is true, if the young Rajala did indeed want to head back home to play (and for a bigger payday), I wonder if he regrets it now. My guess is no. Unlike Linus Omark, Rajala has his NHL freedom now and that could be a pretty lucrative item.