Nashville Predators: How is Tolvanen Doing in the AHL?

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 31: Eeli Tolvanen #11 of the Nashville Predators skates against the Buffalo Sabres during an NHL game at Bridgestone Arena on March 31, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Eeli Tolvanen
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 31: Eeli Tolvanen #11 of the Nashville Predators skates against the Buffalo Sabres during an NHL game at Bridgestone Arena on March 31, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Eeli Tolvanen /
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Despite a short stint with the Predators last season, Eeli Tolvanen has been designated to the AHL to start this season. So how is he doing in Milwaukee?

When the Nashville Predators drafted Finnish winger Eeli Tolvanen with the 30th pick in 2017, it seemed like a steal. Many scouts had Tolvanen as a top 15 skater in the entire world. But by the graces of the NHL gods, this goalscorer fell into Nashville’s lap at #30. In the two seasons before he was drafted, Tolvanen played in the USHL for the Sioux City Musketeers. In 2015-2016, Tolvanen tallied 38 points in 49 games. The following year, at 17 years old, Eeli notched 30 goals and 24 assists in 52 games.

Simply put, Tolvanen has been a pure scorer since his early teens. He’s got a wicked wrist shot, great accuracy on his one-timer, and sees the ice very well.

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Especially for someone who is still a teenager.

After being drafted 30th overall in 2017 by Nashville, Tolvanen headed to the KHL to play for Jokerit for a season. After putting up 43 points and a +13 rating in 60 games, Tolvanen came stateside and suited up for Nashville three times.

He was basically a non-factor in those games, as he recorded no points or any significant statistic. However, I’d like to chalk that up to the fact that the NHL game is significantly faster than the hockey that he had been playing in Russia.

Yes, the KHL is supposed to be the 2nd best hockey league in the world.

However, when the best players in that league are NHL washups, and guys who couldn’t make NHL rosters, there is a clear difference in competition.

So let’s just chalk Tolvanen’s lack of impact up to the change of game speed and competition.

(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /

This Season

Heading into this year, most thought that Eeli would land on the bottom half of the forward rotation. However, the team announced just a few weeks ago, that the 19-year old winger would start the year in the AHL with the Milwaukee Admirals.

While that was a surprise to most, I completely agree with it, and think it will help him and Nashville in the long run.

As we said, Tolvanen was irrelevant in his NHL debut games. Supposedly he’s had trouble adjusting to the smaller rinks and simply hadn’t progressed like the team had hoped over the summer. So, like any smart team would do, they will let the youngster spend a minute in the minors. It’ll help him adjust to the speed of the NHL game more, and it’ll give him time to mature and develop as a player, with guys that he will most likely play with at some point.

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Through 4 games in Milwaukee this season, Tolvanen already has 1 goal, 2 assists, and a +2 rating. That start puts him on pace for 18 goals and 36 assists by the end of the AHL regular season, if he were to stay there the whole time.

However, it is highly unlikely that he’ll be in Milwaukee very long…

Stipulations

In Tolvanen’s contract, he is able to return to Jokerit in the KHL and play the rest of the season with them, if he plays more than 10 games in the AHL. And if he were to do that, he would have to play the remainder of the KHL season. If that were the case, he wouldn’t be available to Nashville until mid-April at best.

It would basically be a repeat of last season for Tolvanen and the Predators.

Unless he figures out how to get on pace with the rest of the Predators forwards, we might not see him again until the very end of the regular season.

And if he were to return to the KHL again, we would most likely be facing the same adjustment issues, heading into the 2019-2020 season…

dark. Next. Nashville Predators: Is Nick Bonino Missing in Action?

Let’s hope Tolvanen can adjust quickly so that we aren’t faced with an endless cycle of never quite being ready for the NHL stage.

He’s been good so far though with Milwaukee, so let’s hope that he’s there for just another week or so, because I simply cannot watch anymore KHL hockey.

GO PREDS GO!