Photo courtesy of Steven Christy. All Rights Reserved.
Former Oklahoma City Barons forward Toni Rajala has finally signed with a team for this season, with HV71 of the Swedish Hockey League. The news comes after the Edmonton Oilers agreed to a mutual termination of his contract during this past offseason. Rajala joins former AHLers Riley Holzapfel, Jason Krog, Brett Sterling, and current Blackhawks prospect Kyle Beach – on loan to the team for a three-week tryout.
A great skater and hockey mind, Rajala is a big piece of the puzzle that Oklahoma City is missing this season, and it’s shown during the first four games of the AHL season. While the Barons found some scoring this past Sunday, there hasn’t been that one clear-cut player that the team is able to rely on for offense. Not to say that things would have been drastically different if Rajala was on the Barons roster, but that expectation was certainly there following last season’s performance.
It’s great to see Toni back on the ice this season, after some comments that seemed to insinuate that something was going on behind the scenes, but it’s very possible it was a case of European small talk that we misinterpret all too often. Regardless of the circumstances though, it’s great to see and I wish him nothing but the best of luck.
Google Translated press release from HV71:
HV71 acquires Finnish striker Toni Rajala, 22, who most recently Edmonton Oilers organization. Rajala is described as a skate fast player who is good with the puck and produces a lot of points.
– Toni is a skater and declarer of rank. He possesses all the technical qualities of both the player and scorer. He will bring creativity, says sports director Fredrik Stillman.
Rajala senior began his career in the Finnish Ilves. In total, he has played 116 games in the Finnish league and produced 56 points.
Last season Rajala played 46 games with the AHL team Oklahoma City Barons, where he accounted for 45 points, and 16 points in 17 playoff games.
Toni has been resident in the Finnish junior national team since U16. Overall played 125 national team matches (U16 to U20) and produced 151 points.
The contract is for the season. Rajala join the team tomorrow and you’re working on trying to get him ready for play for Wednesday’s away game against Luleå.
(s/t @ArtoPalovaara for the heads up)