November NHLE - We Have a Toni Rajala Sighting

via Saruwine, Wikimedia Commons

Toni Rajala was drafted in the fourth round in 2009 as a little-known, but fast-moving winger from Finland with a reputation for international success. He came to North America after being drafted and played for the Brandon Wheat Kings in the Western Hockey League where he totaled 63 points in 60 games. The following year, he went back to Finland to complete his compulsory military service and play for his home club, Ilves. Rajala had 9 goals and 13 assists in 44 games in a very quiet season, even for a 4th round pick playing in Finland. Ilves finished 10th in the 14-team SM-Liiga, and the Lynx were outscored by 31 goals in 60 games.

After attending training camp in Edmonton this fall, he went back to Ilves for the 2011-12 season. While the season has been a bust at a team level, Rajala's personal performance has been excellent. Ilves is last in the SM-Liiga, the third-lowest scoring team in the league. They're on pace to be outscored by 60 goals in 60 games. Rajala is third on the team in points with 8 goals and 5 assists in 22 games, 2 back of Ville Koistinen and 1 behind Mark Lee.

To get a sense of how Rajala's numbers would translate to the NHL, we can use Gabriel Desjardins' NHL Equivalency. Gabe's methodologies are described on his translations page:

One way to evaluate the difficulty of one league relative to another is to examine the relative performance of players who have played in both leagues. Players rarely play significant time in two leagues in the same year, but they often play in one league in one year and in another the next. As long as a player’s skill level is approximately constant over this two year period, the ratio of his performance in each league can be used to estimate the relative difficulty of the two leagues.

After the jump is the full list of skating prospects with their NHL Equivalency and full season projections.

Player - League League DOB Drafted NHL82 G NHL82 A NHL82 P Change
Linus Omark AHL 2/5/87 97 5 36 41 N/A
Toni Rajala SM-Liiga 3/29/91 101 23 15 38 11
Phil Cornet AHL 3/28/90 133 27 5 32 -5
Tobias Rieder CHL 1/10/93 114 19 13 32 5
Gilbert Brule AHL 1/1/87 6 16 14 30 12
Kellen Jones NCAA 8/16/90 202 11 19 29 -5
Drew Czerwonka CHL 7/1/92 166 12 13 25 1
Teemu Hartikainen AHL 5/3/90 163 15 9 25 -3
Mark Arcobello AHL 8/12/88 Und 4 20 23 3
Milan Kytnar ECHL 5/19/89 127 9 6 15 -13
Kristians Pelss CHL 9/9/92 181 10 5 15 3
Curtis Hamilton AHL 12/4/91 48 2 12 14 7
Ryan O`Marra AHL 3/29/91 15 7 7 14 0
Tyler Pitlick AHL 11/1/91 31 8 6 13 -1
Chris Vandevelde AHL 3/15/87 97 3 7 10 -2
Ryan Martindale ECHL 10/27/91 61 2 8 10 4
Cameron Abney ECHL 5/23/91 82 2 4 6 -8
Antti Tyrvainen AHL 4/3/89 Und 0 5 5 -1
Travis Ewanyk CHL 3/29/93 74 Inj Inj Inj Inj
  • Rajala's numbers translate to 23 goals and 15 asissts, a very solid season and good numbers from a 21 year old prospect.
  • Gilbert Brule is on a bit of a hot streak lately and is going to be counted on to carry the offense with both Omark and Hartikainen out until January.
  • Curtis Hamilton is slowly adding to his numbers as he gains some comfort at the AHL level. His NHLE is 14 points right now, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him end the season at 20+. From all accounts, he's handling the physical nature of the professional game now.
  • Tyler Pitlick has stagnated, but continues to impress with his raw skill, shot and physical play. He's got an enormous opportunity to pick up points with so many regular forwards missing from the lineup.
  • Travis Ewanyk is finally back on the ice, as per his Twitter account.
Player - League League DOB Drafted NHL82 G NHL82 A NHL82 P Change
Jeremie Blain CHL 3/19/92 91 6 15 21 0
Kyle Bigos NCAA 5/12/89 99 3 17 20 -8
Brandon Davidson CHL 8/21/91 162 5 15 20 0
Martin Gernat CHL 4/11/93 122 5 14 19 -8
Taylor Chorney AHL 4/27/87 36 0 15 15 N/A
Kirill Tulupov AHL 4/23/88 67 0 14 14 -13
Colten Teubert AHL 3/8/90 13 6 8 14 -2
Alex Plante AHL 5/9/89 15 0 13 13 8
Ryan Lowery AHL 9/6/88 Und 2 10 12 N/A
Dillon Simpson NCAA 2/10/93 92 0 12 12 12
Martin Marincin CHL 2/18/92 46 2 10 12 -4
David Musil CHL 4/9/93 31 1 11 11 -3
Oscar Klefbom SEL 7/20/93 19 0 0 0 0
Taylor Fedun AHL 6/4/88 Und Inj Inj Inj Inj
  • Like Martin Marincin before him, Martin Gernat cooled off quickly. He's still one of the highest scoring defensemen in the WHL, however.
  • Speaking of Marincin, his offense has dropped off of a cliff. We're going to have to rely on eye-witness reports to see if he's become a more sound defender or is being relied on for the tough minutes.
  • Dillon Simpson has a five game point streak going, according to North Dakota SID Jayson Hajdu.
  • Oscar Klefbom has yet to tally a point in 2011-12.
  • I still wish Taylor Fedun occupied a spot on the Edmonton roster to move the puck for Peckham or Barker.
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