Thursday, August 20, 2009

Oiler Prospect Update


Yesterday I was asked by a fan of the Brandon Wheat Kings if I had an update on the status of Finnish forward Toni Rajala.

The forward was picked up by the Wheaties in the CHL Import Draft and at last report, the club was working on freeing him from Ilves so that he could join them as they begin their season as Memorial Cup host. A knee injury threw a wrench into the works but fans have been left wondering where the talented winger will end up this year.

According to Brandon's website, it looks like it will be with the Wheat Kings... eventually. In a release today that proclaims Brandon's other Euro to be on his way, there is somewhat of an update on Rajala's status.
While Urbom is expected to arrive by the weekend, Brandon’s first pick of the CHL Import Draft will soon be on his way to the Wheat Kings.

18-year old Finnish born right-winger Toni Rajala was originally expected to fly with Urbom to Brandon on Friday but due to a knee injury sustained this summer at an Under 20 Hockey Tournament in Europe, the arrival of the Edmonton Oilers’ fourth round draft choice has been delayed.
Rajala will also attend Oiler camp but is not expected to skate thanks to the knee injury. Officially listed as 4-6 weeks.

Oil Kings Coming to Camp

Yesterday I spoke with Oil Kings head coach Steve Pleau during my 3-hour guest host job on Edmonton Sports Night Live (Corey Graham, TEAM 1260). During our conversation I made reference to the two players who have ties to NHL clubs (Brent Raedeke with Detroit and Tomas Vincour drafted by Dallas). According to Pleau, two Oil Kings have been invited to rookie camp with the Oilers - forward Brett Breitkreuz and netminder Torrie Jung.

Breitkreuz scored 19 goals and had 55 points last year with the Oil Kings. He'll be one of Edmonton's three 20-year-old players this season and will be counted on to play a big role with the team.

Tampa Bay opted not to sign Jung so his rights were up for grabs again and no one has claimed him either through the draft or as a free agent. I am quite surprised by that considering his performance last year and especially down the stretch and in the playoffs. If Jung plays at the same level again this year he'll definitely earn a pro contract from someone.

Both players will report to Oiler rookie camp but that's no guarantee of staying longer for main camp let alone earning a contract from the big club.

Also coming to camp is Saskatoon Blades forward Burke Gallimore. He's an Edmonton native and quite frankly I was surprised that he went undrafted in June after scoring 26 goals and 53 points as a WHL rookie. The Oilers will have a small window of opportunity to claim his rights after he attends their camp by signing him to an entry level deal. Sounds crazy but considering the entry level deal doesn't hit the books until his WHL days are done, it's basically like drafting him in September. Detroit did it with Brent Raedeke last year and the Vancouver Canucks recently did it with Kellan Tochkin after their prospect camp this summer.

Trukhno Back

Earlier this summer I reported that there was some concern in Oilerville in regards to prospect Slava Trukhno perhaps staying in Europe this year. I have recently learned that Trukhno has now officially committed to returning to North America where he is almost certainly headed for Springfield in the AHL for a third consecutive season.

Trukhno was a 4th round pick in 2005 and appeared to have a lot of offensive potential. after 96 and 102 point seasons in the QMJHL, Trukhno has definitely struggled as a pro; He had a respectable 35 point rookie season thanks to a red-hot 3-week stretch at the end of the year but followed that up with only 25 points last year. He's battled injuries but this will be a crucial year in Trukhno's career. A step ahead will earn him another contract but if there is no progression he may simply go unqualified next summer.

O'Marra to Finland?

A poster at HF claiming to have inside knowledge suggested that forward Ryan O'Marra is considering options to play in Finland this year.
Appearently O'Marra is practising with the Finnish team JYP for a couple of weeks, getting to know the organization and city and of course vice versa the organization sees if he is up to the level they need. After that O'Marra heads to the NHL-camp. So basically it's either NHL or JYP (if he convinces the organization/ is convinced by the org.)
I have little information on the subject at this point but this is what I can say. I can confirm that O'Marra is indeed in Finland right now and has been to both Helsinki and Jyvaskala but whether he's there scoping out a potential team to play with or simply on vacation I do not know. My attempts to reach the player directly have thus far failed.

The "insider" at HF earlier speculated that:
I also saw he's got one year left of his contract with the Oilers. Perhaps the Oilers just release him, but there's a slight chance Oilers and JYP (the team is rumoured to go) are working on a some kind of loan-contract here.
I have checked with a source within the Oiler organization who claims that this is all news to him and that there has certainly NOT been any sort of discussions with JYP (or anyone else) to loan O'Marra to them for the 2009-10 season. At this point, O'Marra is expected by the Oilers to be at camp and play for the Falcons in the AHL if he should not crack the NHL roster (and at this point that seems rather far-fetched).

I will update if/when I learn more on the matter.

Oilers rookie camp opens the week of September 7th and will feature games against the Vancouver Canucks and the University of Alberta Golden Bears.


Jamie said...

Interesting stuff, Guy, thanks for the update.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update Guy! Lots of great info here.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update (I was the guy that emailed about Rajala.) I'm getting very excited to see him and Urbom play. You should try to get Kelly McCrimmon on your show in the next bit, he would be a good interview with lots to talk about I think.

Jonathan Willis said...

Awesome post, Guy. It's great to hear about Gallimore; I was as surprised as you to find out he went undrafted.