Toni Rajala has really come a long way in one year. After leaving the WHL, he continued his development back in Finland, and we really didn’t have much in the way of expectations when he arrived in North America to continue his pro career. I expressed some doubt about his ability to make the Barons, and in fact Rajala found himself in Stockton early season.
2013-14 RE: 2, 0-0-0
On 12 December I ranked the prospects 1-30:
- #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.
Fast forward to today, and Corey Pronman’s list of top 10 Oilers prospects:
- 4. Toni Rajala, Left Wing
- Year in Review: Rajala increased his stock as much as almost any other prospect this season. He started the year in the ECHL after being a slightly above-average player in Finland, and he ended up as one of the top offensive players in the AHL.
- The Good: Rajala is a dynamic and exciting forward. He has great puck skills, displaying the ability to make defensemen miss with consistency while generating a lot from his individual skill. He is also an above-average distributor who is not selfish, despite his great hands. He makes all the right reads and his decisions are quick. Rajala skates at a good level, with quality speed and agility.
- The Bad: His physical game is a major question mark. Rajala is small and very slight, with a major need to bulk up as much as he can. His defense also needs work.
- Projection: He could be a second line winger.
I do have Rajala playing a couple of games in the RE projection, but the real story for this player will be via OKC in 2013-14. If he blossoms offensively, the Oilers will have a strong option on the wing from the Barons–courtesy a 4th round pick (101 overall) in 2009.
One final note: he ran away with my 5×5 TOI/Points estimate for the Barons (here) post-season.