As was rumoured last week, Eemeli Räsänen has official joined the Toronto Marlies on a Professional Try Out contract.

They also officially announced the PTO for Joe Duszak they said was coming when they signed him to an ELC.

Rumours of Maple Leafs defenceman signings: the long and the short of it

Of note: They have not agreed to an ELC with Räsänen. This could mean the Leafs aren’t sure of him, and that’s reasonable, since he’s barely played all year, or it could be that he wants to wait until he has some kind of track record to show for his efforts here.

From the previous article:

Originally, Räsänen took the KHL opportunity instead of another year in junior hockey in the OHL (he just turned 20 a few days ago) as a greater challenge where he’d be able to grow his game. Between the injury and the traditional light usage a player his age often gets in his first KHL season, that plan didn’t work out all that well. Of course, he did spend the season training with a professional organization, not an OHL team.

Räsänen was originally drafted by the Leafs in 2017, 59th overall. In the two years in the OHL that bracketed the draft, he scored 11 goals and had 61 assists in 127 games played. He also appeared in 27 playoff games and had 11 points.

Outside of the OHL, where his size (he’s 6’7”) is a massive advantage against younger players, he scored less. But with this lost season so far, it’s impossible to say how well he can play pro hockey as he grows into his own body and learns the game at a more advanced level than he needed in junior. He never looked out of place in the KHL, but he wasn’t ever playing in meaningful situations.

The knock against him from long before he was drafted is his skating. He began playing hockey very late in childhood for a Finn, and it shows. But what’s not clear is how good his defending would be now, as an adult in a pro league. No one has seen him try for more than a scrap of time here and there, so no one knows.

Räsänen’s draft rights are indefinite per Cap Friendly, due to his relocation to the KHL. It will be up to him to make enough of an impact to prove the Leafs should give him an ELC.

The Marlies are currently on the road for a three-in-three starting tonight. They also have a Wednesday game in Bridgeport, and play their next home game on March 23.

As of today, they are fairly comfortably in a playoff position, in third place in their division and five points ahead of fourth-place Belleville and seven points ahead of Utica, who are in fifth place and out of a playoff spot. The Marlies magic number is 20, so they are in a race to the end of the season, just not a desperate one.

It bears remembering that Pierre Engvall and Jesper Lindgren either did not play at all or barely saw action in their first seasons with the Marlies on a PTO. Some players work into the lineup right away like Carl Grundstrom did, and some are there for the practise time only at first.

The Marlies currently have a pretty good defence corps, even with injuries and call-ups thinning the ranks. On the right side, they have:

  • Joe Duszak
  • Vincent LoVerde
  • Steve Oleksy - injured
  • Timothy Liljegren
  • Jordan Subban
  • Frank Corrado - injured
  • Eemeli Rasanen/

On the left, they have:

  • Rasmus Sandin
  • Sam Jardine
  • Kristians Rubins (recent ECHL call-up)
  • Calle Rosen - injured
  • Andreas Borgman - injured/

Some righties might have to shift over to the left. The Marlies is definitely opposite world to the Leafs right now.