Toni Rajala
Image: Stockton Thunder

Toni Rajala

Hometown:

Parkano Finland

Team:

Sweden

Currently Playing In:

Europe

Birthday:

1991-03-29

Position:

RW

Eligible for draft:

2009

Shoots:

Left

Drafted:

2009

Height:

5-10

Acquired:

4th round (101st overall), 2009

Weight:

163 lbs.

Probability of Success
  • C

History

2006-07: The Ilves U18 forward Toni Rajala netted a career-high 18 goals and 44 points through 30 games this season, his first with the team.

2007-08: Rajala played the majority of his hockey with Ilves U20 this season, netting 13 goals and 35 points through 33 games. He appeared in six more games with Finland’s U18 Team, netting three goals and five points at the WJC-18.

2008-09: Rajala split the season between Ilves U20 and the clubs top team in the SM-Liiga. In 31 games with the junior squad, he tallied 14 goals and 31 points, totaling another five points (2g+3a) in 21 games with the senior club. He also competed with the Finnish U18 and U20 Team’s, netting 10 goals and 19 points at the WJC-18, along with a Bronze Medal victory, and another three points (2g+1a) in six games at the WJC; he was named to the WJC-18 All-Star Team for his efforts, and took the Best Forward, Best Plus/ Minus (+10), Most Goals, and Most Points Awards at the tourney. Expect to see him make his North American debut with Brandon (WHL) next season.

2009-10: Rajala skated for the WHL's Brandon Wheat Kings in his first season in North America. Overshadowed by high-scoring teammates like Matt Calvert (COL) and Brayden Schenn (LAK) during the regular season, the diminutive playmaker was Brandon's leading scorer at the 2010 Memorial Cup. In 75 WHL games with Brandon, including playoffs, he scored 30 goals with 40 assists and was +23 with 32 PMs. The host Wheat Kings advanced to the championship game at the Memorial Cup with an overtime win in the semifinals after winning just one of three games in pool play and Rajala scored 2 goals with 5 assists and was award the George Parsons Trophy for sportsmanship. Rajala represented Finland at the 2010 U20 World Junior Championship; scoring 1 goal with 2 assists with a -2 plus/minus in six games for the fifth-place Finns.

2010-11: Rajala returned to Finland to play for Ilves in the SM-Liiga and also skated for Finland at the 2011 U20 World Junior Championship. Rajala played in 44 games as a 19-year-old and scored 9 goals with 13 assists and had a -3 plus/minus with 22 PMs as Ilves finished tenth in the 14-team league. Rajala scored 4 goals and was -1 in six playoff games. In six games for Finland at the junior tournament he had 4 assists and was +1 with 2 PMs.

2011-12: Rajala attended Edmonton's training camp before returning to Finland for his second season in the SM-Liiga with Ilves Tampere. After getting off to a slow start due to some nagging injuries, he was the second-leading scorer for an Ilves team that finished last in the 14-team SM-Liiga, Rajala led the team in goals with 16 and his 29 points in 51 games trailed only former Oilers first-round pick Jesse Niinimaki (36 points). In the relegation series against Mestis champion Kiekko-Vantaa he scored 1 goal with 4 assists in five games and was plus-three with 4 penalty minutes. Ilves won the series 4 games to 1 to remain in the SM-Liiga.

2012-13: Rajala returned to North America after two seasons in Finland's SM-Liiga and was a point-per-game scorer for Oilers affiliates Oklahoma City (AHL) and Stockton (ECHL). Rajala skated in five AHL games in October and had 1 goal and 1 assist before being loaned to Stockton during the NHL lockout. He returned to Oklahoma City in January and was among the team's top scorers over the second half and in the playoffs. Rajala finished with 17 goals and 28 assists in 46 games and was +18 with 16 penalty minutes. The Barons finished third in the South Division and reached the Western Conference finals. In 17 playoff games he scored 4 goals with 12 assists and was +9 with 8 penalty minutes. In 29 ECHL games with Stockton he scored 18 goals with 20 assists and was an even plus/minus with 10 penalty minutes. Rajala was released by the Oilers in August, 2013.

 

Talent Analysis

Rajala has quality offensive talent whose best asset might be his elusiveness.  He is however, very slight of build.  He is a pure skill player who – mentally and physically – always seems to be a step ahead of the opposition. Size and strength are real concerns, and the key issue will be whether he can compete on a nightly basis against some of the bigger and faster players in the NHL. He has shown flashes of being unstoppable at the junior level – both in domestic play and in international competition – and has a strong inner drive to create offense. He is a marvel handling the puck, shoots accurately with a quick release, and is adept at passing and receiving the puck.

 

Future

Rajala played his first year of pro hockey in North America in 2012-13. He played the majority of his games at the AHL level, with some time spent at the ECHL level. He was a strong contributor offensively for both teams and will likely see more ice time at the AHL level in 2013-14.

 

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