It didn’t take long for the end of the National Hockey League lockout to have an effect on the Stockton Thunder.
The Stockton roster was trimmed by three on Monday (Jan. 7) as the Edmonton Oilers re-assigned forwards Toni Rajala, Philippe Cornet and Ryan Martindale to the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League. Edmonton is the NHL affiliate of both Stockton and Oklahoma City, and the lockout’s conclusion created roster spots with the Barons because players such as Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be returning to their NHL jobs.
Rajala leaves Stockton as the team’s leading scorer with 38 points (18 goals, 20 assists) in 29 games. He was named last week to the roster for the ECHL All-Star Game to be played Jan. 23 in Colorado.
Cornet, who played in the AHL All-Star Game last season, has produced 23 points (nine goals, 14 assists) in 18 games with the Thunder. Both he and Rajala received brief call-ups to Oklahoma City earlier this season.
Martindale is returning to Oklahoma City after recently being sent to Stockton, where he scored two goals in five games.
Thunder Coach Matt Thomas knew his roster would change when the lockout ended, but pointed out that his team isn’t the only one facing adjustments. The league-leading Alaska Aces, for example, have had four NHL players on their roster for much of the season.
“Everyone is going to lose guys,” Thomas said late last week, when it appeared NHL labor peace was on the horizon. “Everyone’s going to be in trouble in our league because everyone’s got a lot of players that shouldn’t be playing in this league.”
The Thunder will return to action Wednesday, when the team visits the Colorado Eagles. Those teams will meet again Friday and Saturday in Colorado before the Thunder returns home for a Jan. 18 game against the San Francisco Bulls at Stockton Arena.