Nashville Predators: Eeli Tolvanen’s Development Continues in KHL

Eeli Tolvanen #20 (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images)
Eeli Tolvanen #20 (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images) /

The Nashville Predators would much rather still be playing hockey in the Edmonton bubble, but instead their offseason is already in full swing.

It’s nearlt 100 percent certain that the Nashville Predators are going to get an injection of youth into the starting roster when the puck is dropped for next season.

How that opening night roster will look exactly is very debatable, but Eeli Tolvanen figures to be right in the middle of it all. But for now, he’ll be getting more critical development overseas in the KHL, or Kontinental Hockey League, per a team press release.

Tolvanen hasn’t exactly taken off as an NHL-ready type of player like many hoped. It’s been a gradual development for the former 30th-overall pick in 2017’s NHL Entry Draft.

Many forget that this young man is just 21-years-old and has plenty of time to live up to the expectations that have been laid out for him as an offensive power play specialist and critical piece of the Predators’ future.

Tolvanen is re-joining Jokerit of Finland, a team that he played for in 2017-18 and had a lot of success for with 25 goals. The more development he gets, even overseas, the better as he’s looking to grab a starting spot for the Predators next season.

Good news for both Tolvanen and Predators

I’m all for Tolvanen getting more development overseas in a very respected league that he’s already has success in. His confidence should be very high playing for Jokerit, and it will give Predators GM David Poile and Head Coach John Hynes an even stronger idea of how much he’s developed.

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Tolvanen is getting the chance to play for a respected KHL team in Jokerit. A team that in their own right is on the cusp of going deep in the playoffs and has some nice pieces for Tolvanen to play alongside with.

It will be interesting to compare Tolvanen’s upcoming KHL stint with his previous stint when he was much ore of a raw prospect. Hopefully this time around we’ll see a more well-rounded game that can benefit the Predators in 2021.

Looking ahead to 2021

There’s still not a solid idea of when next season’s training camp will begin, but towards the end of November is the thought, with the beginning of the new season sometime in December.

This condensed offseason doesn’t leave a lot of rest of Tolvanen, but luckily he’s young and hungry and shouldn’t have a problem with going immediately from the KHL to the NHL season.

There’s a lot of reason for excitement and optimism in Tolvanen’s development and future with the Predators. He finished the season off strong for the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL, and who knows how strong he would’ve finished if the Admirals get to play postseason hockey.

Playing in the KHL will be very beneficial for both Tolvanen and the Predators coaching staff as they assess if he’s ready to be in the starting lineup next season.

Furthermore, it should give Poile a better idea of how to negotiate with pending free agents if he has a better idea of what he has with current coveted prospects like Tolvanen.

Barring a dramatic dip in development and production, expect Tolvanen to have the training camp spotlight in November and be one of the new additions to the starting roster to open up next season in what will be a critical one for the Predators to avoid falling into a rebuild.

To avoid falling into a rebuild, Tolvanen is one of a few players that have to take big steps forward in their development and show they can be relied upon regularly on the NHL level.