Friday, July 17, 2009

Oilers Make Three Minor Signings

Over at, I've seen that the Oilers have signed three more players that could be spending time with the AHL Falcons in Toni Rajala, Colin McDonald and Devan Dubnyk. Rajala signed his entry level deal for 3 years at 0.625M per year. McDonald is now on his second professional contract which he signed for one year at 0.55M. Dubnyk is also on his second contract, one year at 0.7M. All the pay figures are if the player plays in the NHL and all three deals are two-way contracts. Both Dubnyk's and McDonald's count toward Edmonton's 50 contract limit (Rajala's would if he played in the NHL but that isn't going to happen).

Toni Rajala will not be playing at the NHL level this coming season. However, he is one of the rare 18 year old players that can play at the AHL level without burning any time off of his entry level deal. He has already committed to playing in North America (see the comments of this thread at Lowetide's blog) and will most likely be suiting up for the Brandon Wheat Kings. Still, if the kid lights it up at training camp there's no harm in letting him play in the AHL for at least a few games (I'm sure Rajala would like the money better). In either case, coming over to North America is a good move for Rajala as he is sure to get plenty of playing time in a solid league.

Incidentally, Rajala's status as a prospect amongst Oiler fans is quite interesting. Jonathan Willis and Derek Zona have him ranked 18th among Oiler prospects while Lowetide places him at 8th. Why the discrepancy? I think it largely has to do with the way Lowetide values draft "commentaries" like the Red Line Report (who had Rajala ranked in the top 40 in this year's draft) while Willis and Zona put more value on draft pedigree (Rajala was actually taken 101st overall in this year's draft). In most cases, I tend to side more with the "commentaries" and this case is no different. The fact that Rajala is an explosive offensive player onlly encourages me to hope against hope that he realizes his potential. Hopefully Rajala is motivated at camp and plays well enough to earn himself a spot as a scorer in Springfield.

Colin McDonald is very unlikely to play at the NHL level this year. According to Jonathan's quality of competition numbers he was taking on medium to difficult competition last year in Springfield (he ranked 6th among Falcon forwards) and produced very little in the way of offence posting only 22 points in 77 games. This is slightly worse than his previous season where he put up 23 points in 73 games. To be honest, I'm not too sure why the Oilers bothered with McDonald, especially since he'll cost the Oilers one of their 50 contracts. As far as I'm concerned, the AHL really ought to be reserved for legitimate prospects or true blue veterans. McDonald is neither.

Devan Dubnyk may be in the AHL this season, but it's not unreasonable to think that he could end up playing some games with the Oilers. If Jeff Deslauriers falters, there's a very good chance that Dubnyk could get some playing time and earn himself NHL money as a full-time NHL backup in 2010-2011 since both he and Deslauriers will need new contracts next season. Although his numbers at the AHL level (.906 save percentage) are not inspiring, Jonathan Willis has demonstrated that part of the reason for these poor numbers may well have been the team around him. Hopefully Willis is correct as Dubnyk's ability to deliver replacement level goaltending at the NHL level might be needed.

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