Last weekend’s games against Norfolk ended up being costly for both the Admirals and the Barons. News came today that Tyler Pitlick and Tanner House are both concussed, and that Antti Tyrvainen has a broken wrist. The Barons have responded to the injuries by calling up Toni Rajala, Philippe Cornet and Cam Abney.
The links above have the details; OilersNow tweets that the timeline for Tyrvainen is about six weeks and the timelines for Pitlick and House are roughly a week. All three will miss Wednesday’s game against the Texas Stars, but Pitlick and House could presumably be back in the lineup in time for Saturday’s game against Charlotte.
For the injured players, the important thing is not to rush them back into the lineup. If the Barons lose an extra game because Tyler Pitlick is taking his time coming back from a concussion, I’m highly confident that the organization would be fine with that. I’m sure the temptation to get back into things quickly will be there for the players – Pitlick is a relatively important prospect for the organization but has struggled to score this season and needs to do more, while House was on the outs to start the year but has been playing himself back into the picture. But the long-term health of both needs to be the priority.
For the call-ups – particularly given how Oklahoma has struggled to find secondary scoring – this represent and opportunity.
Philippe Cornet is the name likely most familiar to Oilers fans. He picked up an assist in an NHL cameo last year, playing two games with the Oilers after a stellar first half in Oklahoma City. In 38 games between October and January, Cornet had scored 21 times on just 67 shots (an insane 31.34 shooting percentage). He slid as the year went on, scoring only three times on his next 68 shots, and found himself in the ECHL to start the season.
Cornet has enjoyed a solid start to the year, though. Through 14 games in Stockton he has eight goals and 11 assists, along with a plus-8 rating, and is averaging three shots per game.
Toni Rajala, while less familiar, is having an even better start to the year. The diminutive winger (listed at 5’10”, 163lbs) was a fourth-round pick back in 2009, but has spent the last two seasons in Finland after a point-per-game campaign in the WHL at age 18. He’s currently fourth in ECHL scoring with 11 goals and 23 points over 14 contests, and all of the guys in front of him have played more hockey. Rajala is averaging five shots per game. Of interest: he once broke Alexander Ovechkin’s record for scoring in an under-18 tournament.
Rajala is a long (long, long) shot ever to play a role on the Oilers – for all his offensive brilliance in the ECHL he’s a tiny scoring winger who may or may not be up to the challenge of AHL hockey. However, he’s certainly earned the opportunity and he just might add some offensive punch to an Oklahoma City team that could use the help.
The final call-up is Cameron Abney, who had one fight over three games in an earlier stint with the Barons. Thus far in his professional career, he has 52 games split between Stockton and Oklahoma, six points, and 180 penalty minutes. He was not impressive as a hockey player in his brief Oklahoma cameo this year, but he can skate and he’s plenty tough.
Rajala is the guy I’m most interested to see – I don’t really think of him as an NHL prospect, but he has a pretty good track record of scoring wherever he has been and this will be his first opportunity to play North American professional hockey at a high level.
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