Nashville Predators: Bring Eeli Tolvanen to the Playoff Roster

Eeli Tolvanen #28 of the Nashville Predators (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
Eeli Tolvanen #28 of the Nashville Predators (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /

As the NHL’s revamped postseason gets closer, the Nashville Predators will have to decide who will join their playoff roster to make a Stanley Cup run.

I’m one of those optimistic ones that thinks that eventually Eeli Tolvanen is going to live up to the hype and deliver big results for the Nashville Predators.

Tolvanen might not ever elevate to the status of a Filip Forsberg, but I do have strong optimism that he’s going to gradually become a big part of the Predators’ power play, which is in dire need of some help.

Assuming the NHL gets to go forward with their 24-team playoff format in July or August, teams are going to have the opportunity to add some players to their roster. Players who can be utilized that otherwise wouldn’t be able to in the regular season.

Predators need a power play boost

Tolvanen needs to be utilized by the Predators on their power play. He’s showing promising improvement in his overall game, and still has that lethal shot that can boost a power play unit.

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It’s widely known that Tolvanen hasn’t developed as fast as some people would like to see. He came in with a lot of hype, but obvious improvements were needed after seeing him play at the NHL level.

Tolvanen’s biggest area to improve upon was getting more physical and playing better defensively. Rounding out his game more became the focal point of his progression, and he looks to be doing that in the AHL.

The Predators rank way down at 25th in the NHL in power play percentage at a meager 17.3 percent.

Last season they were dead last 12.9 percent, so yes they have shown mild improvement. But not nearly enough.

Being much more efficient on the power play is going to be critical as they square off with the Arizona Coyotes in the qualifying round. They need pure scorers, and get away from this mundane power play that just seems to throw blind pucks at the net.

Tolvanen might not be quite there as a top-six player, but he’s definitely capable to be a difference-maker on a second power play unit. Maybe even replacing Calle Jarnkrok, who has spent some time there.

But to do that you would have to take Jarnkrok, or someone else completely out of the starting lineup. Are we confident enough in Tolvanen to take on a fourth line role?

Capitalizing on power play will be critical

We’ll have to wait and see how the Predators look in training camp and their opening game. It’s a five-game series, so there’s really no room for error.

The Coyotes rank 5th in the penalty kill, and have outstanding goaltending to lean on with Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta. The Predators aren’t going to be able to surrender a lot of goals and live to tell about it.

It’s going to be a brief appearance in the qualifying round for the Predators if they don’t come back with their slumping power play being fixed. You can’t bank on Pekka Rinne or Juuse Saros bailing out the team by holding Arizona, or any other team, to one or two goals.

Tolvanen rallied towards the end of the season to finish top-five on the Milwaukee Admirals in points with 36, including seven goals on the power play and 12 points overall with the man advantage.

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I’m going to be very interested to see who the Predators choose to add, and Tolvanen should be one of the front-runners to get a spot. It would be baffling and a bad move to leave him off.