NHLE SUMMER 2013: RED HOT RAJALA

Lowetide
August 17 2013 11:40AM

 

Since 2010, the Edmonton Oilers have been graduating exceptional offensive talents to the NHL. Gabriel Desjardins' NHLE has been a guide for those seasons, and has predicted future performance accurately. And not only Hall and Nuge and Yak, but also Eberle and Paajarvi and Omark too. The equivalency has a new favorite, young Finn Toni Rajala. How high can he fly?  

In past summers we've reviewed the minor league, junior and Euro forwards and placed them on the same level using Gabriel Desjardins' NHL equivalencies. Here's what the top end looked like 2010-12:

SUMMER 2010 NHLE (PER 82 GP)

  1. Jordan Eberle 22-24-46 (.561 point-per-game)
  2. Taylor Hall 17-29-46 (.561 point-per-game)
  3. Magnus Paajarvi 16-22-38 (.463 point-per-game)
  4. Linus Omark 20-15-35 (.427 point-per-game)

When the 2010-11 season actually rolled out, the NHLE was an excellent guideline. Jordan Eberle exceeded the number (.623) as did Hall (.646) and Omark (.529), while Paajarvi (.425) was well within the range. NHLE predicted all four would have offensive success given the opportunity, and all four proved it to be true during the 2010-11 season. 

SUMMER 2011 NHLE (PER 82 GP)

  1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 11-27-38 (.463 point-per-game)
  2. Anton Lander 14-20-34 (.414 point-per-game)

The Nuge (.839) blew his number out of the water, mostly owing to an insane season on the PP. Lander (.107) was well below expectations based on opportunity and readiness. 

SUMMER 2012 NHLE (PER 82GP)

  1. Nail Yakpov 18-22-40 (.488 point-per-game)
  2. Magnus Paajarvi 7-21-28 (.341 point-per-game)
  3. Teemu Hartikainein 10-13-23 (.280 point-per-game)

Yakupov had the identical season to Hall two years earlier (.646) and as with Hall cleared his NHLE by some margin. Paajarvi (.381) passed his number by a little but Hartikainen (.130) was so poor he lost the opportunity for a one-way deal with the Oilers.

SUMMER 2013 (PER 82GP)

This year, I'm going to use Rob Vollman's NHL equivalencies. No disrespect to Gabe's originals, but the Vollman numbers are more recent and address those who have asked for updated equivalencies in the past. Pardon my math, but I believe these to be correct. 

  1. Toni Rajala 14-22-36
  2. Mark Arcobello 11-23-34
  3. Jesse Joensuu 11-15-26
  4. Jujhar Khaira 6-17-23
  5. Ryan Hamilton 14-9-23
  6. Andrew Miller 10-13-23
  7. Anton Lander 9-11-20
  8. Kale Kessy 7-12-19
  9. Ryan Martindale 7-8-15
  10. Tyler Pitlick 4-8-12
  11. Curtis Hamilton 6-5-11
  12. Will Acton 4-6-10
  13. Travis Ewanyk 3-5-8

Rajala is such an interesting player. Many will count him out as an "Omark 2.0" but he's young, posted splendid numbers in the AHL and he's a shooter. Rajala--at 21--just missed the point-per-game level and is certainly a candidate for NHL employment based on his season with the Barons. Toni Rajala had 149 shots on goal in 46 games and was cashing regularly. 

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? 

The lesson from this year's NHLE: Watch Rajala! Also, some of those summer bets (Joensuu, Ryan Hamilton, Andrew Miller) are at the very least interesting. My look at the NHLE's from past seasons is here and photo of Rajala courtesy Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved. 

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
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#1 TonyT
August 17 2013, 01:33PM
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@TayLordBalls

Totally agree, I can't believe they wasted a first round pick on Eberle as well. Small players have no place in the NHL...*

* sarcasm

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#2 Naky
August 17 2013, 02:23PM
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@TayLordBalls

Nuge was in the 170 range when he was a rookie. Weight is something that can be gained when in a good development system, you know, kind of like the one the Oilers have been working on improving by massive leaps and bounds over the past few years. As someone else said, Rajala's only been in our system for a total of one year now.

Your entire argument revolves around his weight, while dismissing the actual proof in the pudding numbers he's been putting up at 163. You're also insulting the quality of competition across the board at the AHL level while you're at it, showing your compete and total ignorance of professional hockey at that level. Who do you think are playing in the AHL, smurfs? You think 6'+ and 200+ pound players are NHL exclusive? Rajala's been finding a way to score in the AHL among other really talented - and big - players.

I can't believe I had to waste my time pointing out common sense like this. Get real indeed.

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#3 OutDoorRink
August 17 2013, 02:31PM
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Let's compare Rajala to a player of similar physical stature, seeing as that is the criteria that balls used to judge Rajala and the Oilers decision to draft him.

Patrick Kane

Plays right wing/centre, Height: 5' 11", Weight 178lbs, Shoots: Right.

So Kane basically has 1" and 15lbs on Rajala. I can pick up 15lbs with one finger. Judging by your criteria, Kane must be just a fraction above useless. Uh...hmmmm.

Before you start sputtering that Rajala is no Kane, I didn't say that he was, just that physical size is not always the best way of judging a players chances for success.

Perhaps we should leave that up to Eakins.

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#4 Space Dad
August 17 2013, 01:10PM
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All that "small" forward crud is nauseating. NHL teams that are devoted to skill have success. Period. Yes, teams like Boston and L.A. and St. Louis have had success as well. But they have had skilled size. If you don't have the combination of both, I'll take just the skill over just the size.

Rajala shares many similarities with Detroit's Gustav Nyquist... a player who, in a bottom-six role, maintained a skilled game with linemates Damien Brunner and Joacim Ericsson against the eventual Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks. In other words, Rajala can contirbute in Edmonton, even in the lower half of the lineup. For that matter, so can Arcobello and Linus Omark.

The onus is on Eakins to give them a structure to work with.

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#5 RexLibris
August 17 2013, 12:46PM
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If the Oilers can find a way to turn prospects like Khaira and Moroz into actual players it creates an opportunity to include Rajala into the roster.

I get your interest, LT. He shoots from everywhere, goes to the backdoor play, sets up as well as he fires it, and goes all over the offensive zone to follow the puck.

He compares with Teuvo Teravainen, 10 lbs lighter, but about a half a ppg less in SM Liiga play.

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#6 Space Dad
August 17 2013, 01:30PM
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@TayLordBalls

You might have chosen the worst Oiler prospect to use in support of your idea there. From 2008-2012 the Oilers took no active part in any of his development. One year (09-10) he spent in the Dub with the Wheat Kings, he spent three years with Ilves of the SM-Liiga (08-09, 10-11, 11-12) and only this past year did he step into the Oilers development program. So, for one year the Oilers have developed him and what did that bring them in return?

ECHL: 29, 18-20-38 AHL: 46, 17-28-45

The boy can play, and in tough, physical leagues too. First year of pro hockey in NA and he put up some of the best numbers in the AHL. To put his 46 game, 45 pt season in perspective, the league was led in point scoring by Brandon Pirri, a Blackhawks prospect who scored 75 pts in 76 games.

Pirri ppg.- .987 Rajala ppg.- .978

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#7 Ryan
August 17 2013, 12:58PM
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I agree that I'd like for him to get a shot with ebs and hall while nug is out. Give the kid a go in the top 6 and see how he does. Then give him another year in ahl to develope. Don't agree wig trading him now before we know what we have , specially when he is tracking well and our forward depth is weak. Would be nice to have a forward who can fill in on the top 6 when we have injuries.

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#8 Oilersman
August 17 2013, 11:48AM
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Let him fly I say. Can't keep a bird down forever or they'll get their first flight over the Belanger Triangle.

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#9 CrazyCaptain88
August 17 2013, 12:13PM
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This could be a huge opportunity for Rajala. If the reports are true and Nuge doesn't start playing until the beginning of November and Hall is moved to centre, the Oilers could leave Hemsky on the 3Line and move Rajala into the top 6 if his pre-season play warrants it.

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#10 toprightcorner
August 17 2013, 03:35PM
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TayLordBalls wrote:

very very few featherweight players can take the punishment from a bigger man, over a long grueling season.

met Eberle - he's a solid 6" and 190+ pounds.

Rajala is listed at 163 pounds.

Get real.

Just so you know, those stats you have are the same as when he was drafted in 2009 so he is likely to have gained 15 lbs since then.

I agree to the fact that the team needs bigger, stronger players to fill in the roster to make up for lack of size and should try to trade Rajala for some of that if possible. to get the best value out of him it would be better having him play first line minutes scoring more than a PPG than 9 min night in the NHL

however, saying a player cant succeed based on size alone is asinine. Almost everyone told Theo Fleury couldn't play pro at 5'6".

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#11 Darrell
August 17 2013, 06:51PM
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TayLordBalls wrote:

Patrick Kane? dream on!

for his age, he's 30 pounds under weight -

that's 6 x 5 pound sugar bags or if you're Theo Peckham, it's 120 quarter pounders!

Give up or change your handle to DSF'er as your getting trashed ... I like the fact we have depth to talk about as I remember a time all we had was Schremp.

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#12 Citizen David
August 17 2013, 07:39PM
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Rajala and Belov are going to be the two most exciting players to watch at training camp/pre-season.

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#13 DieHard
August 17 2013, 03:23PM
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Definitely a call up option this year. Can he play both sides? Should be interesting to see him during pre-season. What if he goes supernova????

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#14 TigerUnderGlass
August 17 2013, 11:55PM
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@TayLordBalls

met Eberle - he's a solid 6" and 190+ pounds.

FFS if this was the case the Oilers would list him as that.

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#15 non descript
August 17 2013, 06:23PM
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at some point in the near future it may become apparent that the oil simply dont have room for three six million dollar wingers and they might require an affordable trigger man on the second line. i personally dont trade hall or yakupov...

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#16 G Money
August 18 2013, 10:47AM
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TayLordBalls wrote:

a big man can bust bones / dislocate / rip shoulder muscles, of the little man.

Best Oilers can hope for is he puts up another year of good OKC numbers then trade him for a second rounder that turns out to a real prospect.

Rajala even being in the system shows poor past draft choices and is trade bate, nothing more.

Yeah, I totally get where you're coming from.

I mean look at last year in the AHL playoffs. The Barons played the Griffins, who average almost 200 lbs, and have a few monsters:

Evans (D) 6' 4", 230 lbs Nicastro (D) 6' 3", 225 lbs

Nestrasil (R) 6' 2" 210 lbs Sheahan (C) 6' 2" 212 lbs Aubry (C) 6' 4" 208 lbs Grant (L) 6' 1" 218 lbs

I mean, those guys must have busted / dislocated / ripped Rajala a good dozen times during their seven game playoff series.

Oh, wait, hang on a second. It says here (http://theahl.com/stats/player.php?id=4710) Rajala put up 16 pts in 17 playoff games. That's impossible, no one that small could do that, especially with his shoulder ripped off. No way. Must have been some other guy.

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#17 OutDoorRink
August 18 2013, 10:48AM
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Hey TayLordsBalls. Something really disturbing about that handle. Anyway, what part of:

"Before you start sputtering that Rajala is no Kane, I didn't say that he was, just that physical size is not always the best way of judging a players chances for success."

...don't you get? I clearly stated that they only comparison was their size and your answer is typical of someone who has no argument and must resort to childish behaviour. Do you only see what you want to? Your sputtering nonsense reply, "Patrick Kane? dream on!", is exactly as I predicted.

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#18 Quicksilver ballet
August 17 2013, 10:47PM
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If the kid can eventually become a player, then it matters little about the gory physical details. Still a very thin roster here, even though the Oilers are right up against the cap.

If the kid can play, he can play. In todays no hit league, there may be room for kids like him again.

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#19 michael
August 18 2013, 09:32AM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:
met Eberle - he's a solid 6" and 190+ pounds.

FFS if this was the case the Oilers would list him as that.

If Ebs is 6ft tall I am 8ft. I am 6'1 235 and standing besides Ebs he "might" 5'11ish.And maybe 175. Not a chance he is 190. On a good day at buffet world he might be that.

What I tend to measure is "man strength". You all know what I mean. When your in your prime 25-30ish you've reached what you might call "man strength". Its the difference between what some of you are saying about NHL players and a guy like Rajala. He just hasn't filled out and gained that 'man strength". I'll give you a good example of it. George Laraque vs Teemu Hartikanen. George had man strength. Teemu my sister could knock off the puck. You have to develop that kind of strength not just in the gym but on and off the ice. That's the purpose of cross training. To build core strength in all areas.

I'll give you a prime example of "man strength". Messier. He was specimen as a teenager and as young 18-19 year old. But you look at Messier in 1990 or 1993 and compare him physically to when he first came in the league. The guy in 1993 was an unstoppable force. There wasn't a guy in the league who could knock Messier off the puck. Lindros maybe. But the rest of the league. Not a chance. Old Man Power.

Rajala has the skill. He needs time to develop man strength. Its not his height or his weight that is the key. Its that man strength. Its that ability to use that which were given at maximum capacity when called upon. I know guys 5'8 who can lift just as much as I can. So to those posters who believe size and weight determine the ability to compete in the NHL you should really give your heads a shake.

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Another smallish

Quick forward, I'll pass, Thank You

Trade him while you can

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#21 TayLordBalls
August 17 2013, 01:02PM
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Plays right wing, Height: 5' 10", Weight: 163, Shoots: Left,

He aint going anywhere in the NHL!

Why would the Oilers even waste a draft pick on someone his size?

Shows poor draft picking at its best.

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#22 GVBlackhawk
August 18 2013, 11:44AM
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TayLordBalls wrote:

very very few featherweight players can take the punishment from a bigger man, over a long grueling season.

met Eberle - he's a solid 6" and 190+ pounds.

Rajala is listed at 163 pounds.

Get real.

Have you ever met Martin St. Louis?

Also: 6" means six inches. So you just verifed that Eberle is a solid six inches.

Hmmmm...

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#23 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
August 17 2013, 11:53AM
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Martindale can't even get those numbers in the AHL.

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#24 Rama Lama
August 17 2013, 12:22PM
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This guy will never, ever, get a chance to play for the Oilers........I say we trade him now and get what we can for him.

Let the kid play, he deserves that.

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#25 TayLordBalls
August 17 2013, 08:29PM
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@Darrell

what depth?

RNH gets hurt and we don't have ANY center to take his place.

Now you want to stick a 160 pound kid in against 240 pound men?

Man, this forum is turning into something from the movie "Lord of the Flies"

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#26 Reg Dunlop
August 17 2013, 10:44PM
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Trading a prospect like Rajala is unwise, regardless of his size. The return will be minimal now so why not give him another year in the AHL and then consider using him as a replacement for Eberle. Ebs is expensive and will return far more in trade, maybe shoring up a glaring weakness like 2C while Rajala hypothetically can contribute 50% of Ebs' production for 1/6 the price. Not to crack on Ebs specifically but there was that unforgivable Flames jersey thing...

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#27 rickithebear
August 18 2013, 12:22AM
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the big hit has little to do with weakening the opposition. it has been said by the best defensive players, battling along the boards with a strong pocession player is more tiring.

for you get the big hit guys. get your wife or girlfriend to punch you three times with 20 minutes between each.

Then hold a 6 pound hammer out perpindicular to your chest for 25 seconds and then a 60 second break. do that 25 times.

I believe the defensive forwards to be correct.

Rajalas gets 80 % of his points from even play. thats about 29 evpys NHLE. that would put him there with Mcginn, Skinner, perron, Clarkson, Grabner. I would take that.

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#28 The Jon
August 18 2013, 06:57AM
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Martin St Louis The End

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#29 TayLordBalls
August 17 2013, 01:15PM
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@Space Dad

not only is the pick wasted on someone tiny but the time and effort to develop the talent is wasted.

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#30 Randall Shermer
August 18 2013, 01:38AM
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I understand the need for special teams players in the bottom 6 but it boggles the mind that Rajala couldn't do well (post positive differential) against the knuckle-draggers on so many other teams.

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#31 Spydyr
August 18 2013, 08:57AM
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The Jon wrote:

Martin St Louis The End

One million other undersized players that never made it.The end.

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#32 TayLordBalls
August 17 2013, 01:52PM
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very very few featherweight players can take the punishment from a bigger man, over a long grueling season.

met Eberle - he's a solid 6" and 190+ pounds.

Rajala is listed at 163 pounds.

Get real.

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#33 TayLordBalls
August 17 2013, 04:25PM
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Patrick Kane? dream on!

for his age, he's 30 pounds under weight -

that's 6 x 5 pound sugar bags or if you're Theo Peckham, it's 120 quarter pounders!

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#34 HAMMERS
August 18 2013, 09:27AM
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Citizen David wrote:

Rajala and Belov are going to be the two most exciting players to watch at training camp/pre-season.

Totally agree . To this day I don't understand people who evaluate players on size big or small.

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#35 Mumbai Max
August 18 2013, 02:30PM
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TayLordBalls wrote:

what depth?

RNH gets hurt and we don't have ANY center to take his place.

Now you want to stick a 160 pound kid in against 240 pound men?

Man, this forum is turning into something from the movie "Lord of the Flies"

The MOVIE 'Lord of the Flies'?

What is there to say to someone who would refer to the MOVIE 'Lord of the Flies'.

It is kind of like referring to the movie of The Bible, or the movie of Moby Dick.

Oy Vey

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#36 Spurzey
August 19 2013, 07:16AM
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Reg Dunlop wrote:

Trading a prospect like Rajala is unwise, regardless of his size. The return will be minimal now so why not give him another year in the AHL and then consider using him as a replacement for Eberle. Ebs is expensive and will return far more in trade, maybe shoring up a glaring weakness like 2C while Rajala hypothetically can contribute 50% of Ebs' production for 1/6 the price. Not to crack on Ebs specifically but there was that unforgivable Flames jersey thing...

This is the only logical post on this whole argument. Props to Reg. Common sense wins again. Balls is a bully.

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#37 seanjohn667
August 18 2013, 05:36AM
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Sure are alot of guys confident that the Oil can become the smallest Stanely Cup champion in memory. I think this tiny little lineup has the 2013/14 season to prove it can compete with and defeat the big boys. if they end up any lower then 18th in the league, expect to see a very talented, zippy little guy leave town.

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#38 TayLordBalls
August 18 2013, 07:39AM
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one of the most valuable abilities in life and business is to see things as they are, rather than how you wish them to be.

I'm right, your wrong.

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#39 seanjohn667
August 18 2013, 08:46PM
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The Jon wrote:

Martin St Louis The End

this is the problem, right here. because one small guy is great, we should keep every decent small guy EVEN if we already have 9 decent small guys.

for one second can you forget about Rajaha's stats and look at the makeup and needs of our lineup.

get it thru your extremely thick skulls. 1 or 3 very good small guys = good. 6-9 decent small guys = no good.

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#40 Oilers42
August 17 2013, 12:56PM
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Leave him in the ahl to develop and bring him up I'm 2014-2015 and resign hemmer and sign skilled 3rd line for a skilled 3rd line

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#41 TayLordBalls
August 18 2013, 09:59AM
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a big man can bust bones / dislocate / rip shoulder muscles, of the little man.

Best Oilers can hope for is he puts up another year of good OKC numbers then trade him for a second rounder that turns out to a real prospect.

Rajala even being in the system shows poor past draft choices and is trade bate, nothing more.

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#42 michael
August 19 2013, 09:43AM
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Spydyr wrote:

Easy answer.Now many 5'2" players are in the NHL and how many 6'2" players are?

Now do you understand?

Thankfully Rajala is not 5'2 then. Remember that skinny kid who played for Edmonton years ago. Yeah that guy. What did they say about him. Oh he is never going to make it in the NHL. He's too small. Too soft. NHL career point leader when he retires. Just saying that we need to keep an open mind and realize that the old adage that its the fight in the dog, not the dog in the fight that applies in many cases.

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#43 TayLordBalls
August 18 2013, 12:20PM
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ya, perhaps your right - maybe we should only draft peewee HerMan types instead of HeMan types.

give it up - your argument is baseless.

snap, crackle and pop....

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#44 TayLordBalls
August 18 2013, 04:47PM
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@Mumbai Max

the book is a classic, where children get free rule of the land.

sheep!

last year, fans have said the oilers needed to increase in size, strength and be more nasty.

even MacT wants that, now the forum is jumping on comments regarding a seriously under-weight prospect.

baaaaaa

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#45 Spydyr
August 19 2013, 09:18AM
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HAMMERS wrote:

Totally agree . To this day I don't understand people who evaluate players on size big or small.

Easy answer.Now many 5'2" players are in the NHL and how many 6'2" players are?

Now do you understand?

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#46 Spydyr
August 19 2013, 09:56AM
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@michael

Yeah Rajala is the next Gretzky good argument.

The bigger player with the same skill as the smaller player will always win.Speed and size do matter.Especially in the playoffs when you have to fight for every inch of ice.

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