A huge statement was made by the Nashville Predators prospects as they sweep all three of their games. The future looks bright.
It may not count towards the regular season standings, but it’s awesome to see the young talent within the Nashville Predators organization finding success. There’s reason for excitement and hope in the future after a three-game sweep in the Prospects Showcase. Here’s a quick rundown of the final score in each game:
The 2019 NHL Prospects Showcase switches to different cities every year, and this year just so happened to be in Nashville. The Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals also participated in the event that gets us primed for the preseason and regular season. We get a chance to see the young crop of talent in game action, and see if there’s any chance that some could be close to jumping to the NHL level.
This year comes as a big success for the Nashville Predators as they take care of business by going undefeated in a group of very talented organizations. Some of the biggest names in the Predators pool of prospects really performed at a high level in this tournament held at the Ford Ice Center.
Eeli Tolvanen shows he’s improved
We have to start with the highly-touted Eeli Tolvanen, who fans are anxious to see stick on the NHL roster. He’s come along gradually since being drafted 30th overall in 2017. He’s fully expected to eventually be a mainstay on the NHL roster, and make huge impacts on the power play with his shooting abilities.
As for his performance at the Prospects Showcase, he really made a statement. He got on the board early on in the three-game tournament against Tampa Bay, scoring on a backhander after stealing the puck. Something were eager to see happen many times in his NHL career. This gives us a taste of what he’s capable of, and that he’s capable of scoring in many different ways.
He followed up his performance in a 4-1 win over Tampa Bay’s prospects by netting the overtime winner against Washington. This goal comes from a beautiful assist from Thomas Novak, a 22-year-old center drafted by the Predators in 2015. Tolvanen definitely made the most of his scoring opportunities in this tournament by tallying four total goals.
It can almost be 100 percent guaranteed that Tolvanen finds his way back onto the NHL starting lineup at some point this year. His talent is too great to leave him in at the minor league level. If indeed this showing is a sign of things to come, then the Predators desperately need him on the power play and to bolster up the bottom six.
Others who performed well
Let’s go to another intriguing prospect that has high expectations, Rem Pitlick. He has just one game of experience on the NHL level, but he’s making the most of his opportunities to work his way up to the NHL. He finishes with a pair of goals and three assists.
As for some of the newest members of the Nashville Predators, there were promising signs from them as well. Egor Afanasyev tallied two goals in the tournament. He’s considered by many as a steal from this year’s draft class, being taken in the 2nd round at 45th overall. He’s a mammoth of a player at 6’4″ and will be fun to watch him in the OHL this year.
The goaltenders had an up-and-down tournament, led by Connor Ingram. He appeared in just two of the three games, but pitched a shutout on 16 saves in the opening game against Tampa Bay. Ken Appleby gave up the lone goal by Tampa Bay in that contest. You may remember that Ingram ironically came over from the Tampa Bay organization, so nice job by him shutting out the team that drafted him.
You can’t draw crazy conclusions from exhibitions featuring prospects, but it’s still nice to see a 3-0 record from this group. We got to see a lot of talent in what looks like a very exciting group of players that we’ll be keeping an eye on for the Milwaukee Admirals and other parts of the minor leagues. Tolvanen raised the most eyebrows, but there are others that are quickly rising through the ranks as well.