Lauri Pajuniemi, the Rangers 5th round pick in 2018, has returned to Europe, signing with Malmo in the SHL. Pajuniemi caught Rangers fans attention during the 2019-2020 season, putting up 26 goals and 40 points in 49 games with TPS Turku in Finland’s Liiga. The 26 goals were tops on his team, and he was tied with former Ranger Lauri Korpikoski with 40 points.
Pajuniemi spent the Covid season in Finland, putting up 22 goals and 38 points in 48 games before signing with the Rangers and being assigned to the Hartford Wolf Pack for the 2021-2022 season. His lethal shot was his best weapon, but Pajuniemi never really developed beyond the shot. He also battled injuries and adjustments to the smaller rink. His best season with Hartford was this past season, with 19 goals and 38 points in 68 games.
Pajuniemi was never really looked at as a viable NHL prospect, and never got a shot at the NHL level. As a 5th round pick, this was a high ceiling dart throw that didn’t pan out. Such is the draft.