LW Toni Rajala - Luleň HF, SHL (2009, 101st, EDM; UFA)
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01-04-2008, 03:11 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Originally Posted by
In my opinion size does matter
at least in junior hockey where the differencies between players are bigger than in senior hockey. For example strengh, I believe North American juniors at this stage (U17) have done more weightlifting than their European counterparts. They have more strengh especially in their upper bodies which can be seen in the corners and in front of the net(s). Europeans on the otherhand skate a lot in training sessions so they tend to have strong(er) legs.
Bigger and stronger players can dominate at all levels but in junior hockey especially, because of the larger differencies in physical attributes. In NHL there are also differencies between players but the caps are smaller. There are of course differencies between skill levels also but they tend to stay about the same throughout the years. You can always do weightlifting or other kind of physical exercise and hope to grow a few inches but you can't teach skill. To a certain point you can develope your skills and understanding of the game but you can't turn a georgeslaraque into a sidneycrosby no matter how hard you train.
That being said I believe team Finland were overpowered by their opponents in this tournament. Size and strengh were missing while I think no one can deny that Finnish players had skill (something that's quite rare in Finland nowadays!).
Calculations show that there were quite big differencies between the average weight of players in this tournament:
195lbs / 88,5kg
ONT 186lbs / 84,3kg
USA 179lbs / 81,2kg
170lbs / 77,1kg
184lbs / 83,5kg
WES 183lbs / 83kg
USA 183lbs / 83kg
163lbs / 74kg
Those are just average weighs, but you can see how much smaller the finnish team was. Some might say it was men against boys. Imagine these two team-leading defensemen in the same rink: Sami Vatanen (5'8" 141lbs / 1.73m 64kg) and Jared Cowen (6'5'' 215lbs / 1.96m 97kg). Both scored 5 points (Vatanen 2+3 and Cowen 0+5). Try and guess which one is highly touted by ISS
Overall, if I were a scout I would definately keep my eyes on Rajala and watch how he developes. If he can score 11 points in 5 games while weighing under 150lbs, I'd like to see what is he able to do when he gains 20-30 lbs. The skill is definately there.
Yes, you are right, it's scary to imagine how good Rajala will be if he can get much bigger and stronger but although I don't want to take anything from him - it's a concern at this point, especially if we are discussing Top-5-talent for the draft. As much as I like him I don't give him top-5-potential unless he really gets significantly bigger and stronger. If he doesn't then count on a late first-rounder. Even in todays NHL size and strength matters, not as much as before but it still matters.
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