All the hype is culminating, as it seems that the Predators’ 2017 first round pick, Eeli Tolvanen, will be on his way to Nashville soon.
Nineteen year old Eeli Tolvanen will be wearing Predator gold soon, according to Juha Hitela of Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat Urheilu. The report says that the Nashville Predators and their top prospect have agreed to an entry level contract. One that will bring the Finnish winger to Nashville very soon.
Tolvanen has played this season in the KHL with Helsinki Jokerit, where he has tallied 19 goals and 17 assists in 49 games. His team is currently 1 loss away from the end of their season, meaning that Tolvanen could be on his way to Nashville by the end of the week.
What He’s Done
Since being drafted 30th overall in the 2017 NHL Draft, Tolvanen has done nothing but improve and impress. In the KHL with Jokerit, Tolvanen racked up 36 points in 49 games, and broke the record for most points by a player under 20 years old in the KHL. He also added a +14 rating.
At the IIHF World Junior Championships with Team Finland, Eeli tallied 1 goal, 5 assists, and a +6 rating in 5 games. Then, Tolvanen turned heads with 3 goals and 6 assists in just 5 games on the world’s biggest stage in PyeongChang. One of the youngest players there, Tolvanen was tied for 2nd in scoring.
In less than a year since he was drafted, Tolvanen has done nothing but make a name for himself. The 19 year old has one of the most exciting offensive games that Nashville has seen in a prospect in a while.
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For more, check out a full scouting report on Eeli from last year before the NHL Draft.
Where Goalvanen Fits
Before last week, it was uncertain as to where Tolvanen would fit in the Predators packed lineup. Nashville has built one of the deepest rosters in the league this season, so there isn’t exactly an open spot just lying around.
Furthermore, Nashville can’t even fit all the players they want right now.
However, the injury to Calle Jarnkrok during last week’s game against the Winnipeg Jets, has opened a spot for Eeli.
Jarnkrok will be out for the rest of the regular season with an upper-body injury, meaning Tolvanen can get at least 7 or 8 NHL games under his belt before the playoffs.
That is, if he comes stateside right after Jokerit is eliminated from the KHL playoffs.
If paired with the right line mates, and given chances, Tolvanen could do damage quickly with Nashville.
The Predators possession-style offense highlights his sniper-esque abilities. He has elite speed and handles, however he is just as deadly when he has a chance to set up and rip a shot.
What to Expect
Although just 19 years old, Tolvanen won’t be treated like a kid. If he is thrown into the NHL mix immediately, it’s because Poile and Laviolette know he can play. Predators assistant GM Paul Fenton said that, “When you watch the young man play, his maturity is off the charts”.
If given 7 or 8 NHL games before the playoffs, I might be inclined to expect 2-3 goals. After that, maybe a playoff goal or two.
I mean the kid has been a scoring machine everywhere he’s gone…
Not to mention he can be physical too.
Nashville has already clinched a playoff berth, and is only playing for home ice now. Once that is secured, I’d expect to see stars like Pekka Rinne, Roman Josi, Viktor Arvidsson, and others to rest some. Nashville needs to be healthy and build trust in the bottom half, as they saw how fast injuries can occur last season in the playoffs.
Guys from the bottom 6, like Ryan Hartman, Mike Fisher, Colton Sissons, and Miikka Salomaki need to be ready in the playoffs. I’d expect them to dominate the ice during the Predators last few games. And to add to that list, Eeli Tolvanen should see significant ice time.
Personally, I can’t wait to see Goalvanen suit up for Nashville. He’s a points machine, and has done nothing but impress since he burst onto the scene last summer.
See you soon, Eeli!