July 25, 1981 |
|Height||6 ft 1 in (185 cm)|
|Weight||209 lb (95 kg; 14 st 13 lb)|
|NHL Draft||13th overall, 1999
Despite limited NHL experience, Rita has played extensively in the American Hockey League and in the SM-liiga in his native Finland. Rita started his hockeycareer in a youth team of EKS (Espoon Kiekkoseura). He played his first seasons of pro hockey for Jokerit, Helsinki, and was drafted 13th overall in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft by the Edmonton Oilers.
Rita played for HPK in the SM-liiga during the 2004–05 NHL lockout, winning the bronze medal. That season he was awarded the Raimo Kilpiö trophy, and led the league in scoring during the playoffs. He also represented Finland at the 2005 World Hockey Championship, earning one assist. He had signed with Jokerit for the 2005–06 season with a contractual clause enabling him to return to the NHL. When the Oilers offered him a one-year contract in August 2005, Rita signed on to return to North America.
Although once considered a premier prospect at the NHL level, Rita's slow development showed cause for concern to Oilers management. On January 26, 2006, Rita was traded along with Cory Cross, to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Dick Tärnström. He finished the season with just 10 points in 51 games.
It was announced on 2 May 2006 that Rita was to depart Pittsburgh to return to his original club, Jokerit on a one-year contract. He was the best goal scorer of SM-liiga in 2006–07 season.
Regular season and playoffs
- Jani Rita on nhlfinns.com
- Prospect Report: Jani Rita
- Jani Rita's career statistics at The Internet Hockey Database
|Edmonton Oilers first round draft pick
|Winner of the Raimo Kilpiö trophy
|Winner of the Aarne Honkavaara trophy