Nashville Predators Training Camp Spotlight: Eeli Tolvanen

Eeli Tolvanen #11 of the Milwaukee Admirals (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Eeli Tolvanen #11 of the Milwaukee Admirals (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

Training camp for the Nashville Predators is in full swing, and we’re staying locked in on the expanded roster players and how they’re looking.

This has the full vibe of being a preseason training camp as prospects for the Nashville Predators are getting the chance to show what they’ve got in hopes of maybe landing a NHL roster spot.

However, this isn’t some ordinary training camp, as we all know. The Predators are trying to build a roster to get ready for a deep playoff run that involved 23 others teams, and some of their younger prospects might be able to help them make that extra push.

Philip Tomasino has already been highlighted and widely regarded as the prospect with the most promising future for the Predators. There’s a segment that wants him on the starting roster, but another player worth paying full attention to is Eeli Tolvanen.

Tolvanen’s development hasn’t gone as quick as one would hope since being drafted with a ton of hype in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft at the 30th overall pick. Fresh off the trip to the Stanley Cup Final, it appeared that the Predators landed one of the steals of the draft.

The jury is still out on Tolvanen, and he’s getting a unique opportunity to make his case to land a roster spot for the Predators just in time for NHL playoff minutes. Pretty astounding stuff, and I think he has the best chance out of all the prospects that have been called up to make a roster spot for the qualifying round.

Jolting the power play

The biggest case you can make for Tolvanen is obviously his shooting skills, particularly from the slot and while his team is on the man advantage.

But Tolvanen can’t simply be just a power play specialist. He has to offer more in terms of forechecking, physicality, moving without the puck and making accurate passes when the shot isn’t there.

Tolvanen is getting a lot of confidence from the Predators coaching staff during training camp from the start as he’s skated with the NHL regulars, which hasn’t been the case for every prospect called up:

The next real test for Tolvanen, and the rest of the group trying to make their case for a playoff roster spot, will the be the team’s first scrimmage on Wednesday:

The criticism on Tolvanen has always been about bulking up physically and rounding out his game, which is nothing out of the ordinary for a young player that still has plenty of time to make those improvements.

However, this is a massive decision to make for the Predators. They have to be accurate in their assessment of shaking up the roster by adding a prospect to a starting role and removing a veteran who played on a regular basis in the regular season.

Is Tolvanen finally ready?

Now is the time to see if Tolvanen’s extended time in Milwaukee with the Admirals has paid off and made him a more NHL-ready player. The Predators may decide to stick with the regular roster that they were trotting out before the pause, but I have a feeling that head coach John Hynes is going to shake something up.

Tolvanen finished the shortened AHL season with 21 goals, seven of those on the power play, and was playing his best hockey down the stretch. He showed noticeable improvements in his all-around game.

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Even before the 2019-20 regular season began coaches were pleased with the development that Tolvanen was showing in preseason camp. He’s had nearly a full season in the AHL on a great Milwaukee team to build on that.

Now Tolvanen has to translate that recent success and do it against NHL teammates in what has been an intense training camp so far with plenty of competition. He’s definitely in the spotlight along with Tomasino for a possible starting spot.

My confidence is pretty high that Tolvanen’s future is about to gain some steam for the Nashville Predators as he looks to show he’s ready to contribute on the NHL level, and in playoff form no less.