Nashville Predators: Expect Eeli Tolvanen to Keep Improving

Nashville Predators (Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)
Nashville Predators (Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports) /

Let me start off by saying one thing, I understand if you are a Nashville Predators fan and tired of waiting for Eeli Tolvanen to reach his potential.  He has been hyped up by the team for several years now, and people are desperately waiting for him to finally get to where he should be.

Seeing Tolvanen go cold at the end of the season and playoffs was not an encouraging sign in the eyes of many, but you cannot give up hope for the young forward just yet.

At the end of the day, Tolvanen still showed flashes of what he can be moving forward, and was getting noticeably better before suffering an injury in April.

Remember at one point not long ago, there were people wondering if Tolvanen would ever make an impact on the team’s roster, and he found himself in the conversation for the Calder Trophy before getting injured.

Tolvanen has room to improve

Tolvanen’s biggest strength has always been putting pucks in the net, and he showed it right out of the gate.  His absolute cannon of a shot is something to behold, and seeing him impact the power play the way he did was a very encouraging sign.

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Tolvanen was much less impactful in that regard when he came back from his injury, but I attribute that much more to an awful power play structure — or lack thereof — that became too easy for opposing teams to figure out.

Where Tolvanen really needs to improve moving forward is his play at even strength.  His sensational snipes on the man advantage might have overshadowed it in the eyes of some, but he struggled to make much of an impact at 5-on-5 play the entire season.

It started to get better right before Tolvanen’s unfortunate injury, but that was it.  He could not keep it up when he returned, and with the power play being neutralized once again, he became invisible down the stretch.

Where Tolvanen really can improve for next season is as an even strength scorer.  I definitely want him to eventually become comfortable as a playmaker as well, but we shouldn’t get too far ahead of ourselves.

Who knows, with the way Tolvanen was progressing before he got hurt, he could find his groove and start to become much more well-rounded next season.  But realistically, he will improve at one thing at a time.

Growing pains are normal

It was underwhelming to see Tolvanen hit a wall as the season came to an end.  But at the same time, it really was not a stunning turn of events.

You have to remember that Tolvanen was technically a rookie this year at 22-years-old.  You cannot just expect him to come in and immediately be perfect.

There is a reason why the Predators kept Tolvanen in the minors for a while and were so patient with it.  And based on the year he just had, you can expect his development to continue step by step.

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It will most likely take a few more years for Tolvanen to become the star that all of us want him to be.  There is a good chance that there will be some bumps along the road, as was the case this year.

Patience is required when it comes to Tolvanen’s progress.  This is not the first time that it has taken a player years to develop before establishing himself in the NHL, and it certainly will not be the last.

Tolvanen’s career is just beginning, and despite the slow finish to his rookie year, he is off to a good start.  The organization seems to have confidence that he can blossom into a stud, and you should too.