Nashville Predators Should Be Seeking Out Trade Partners for Eeli Tolvanen

Nashville Predators right wing Eeli Tolvanen (28) skates with the puck during the first period against the Los Angeles Kings at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators right wing Eeli Tolvanen (28) skates with the puck during the first period against the Los Angeles Kings at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

Unfortunately just 13 games into the 2022-23 season, the Nashville Predators have already reached a point where trading certain players should start being explored, including Eeli Tolvanen.

This is beginning to look like a bad rerun of the Predators failing to develop a dynamic offensive forward who has a high ceiling, but isn’t being used effectively enough to warrant keeping him on the roster.

In the latest ugly defeat for the Nashville Predators at the hands of a surging Seattle Kraken team, Tolvanen was a healthy scratch. He has now played in just eight of the 13 games this season, putting up a goal and two assists.

I saw this scenario coming before the season started that it was a high probability that Tolvanen wouldn’t be here much longer. You’re better off getting something out of him, even if it’s minor, while he’s still young and has a promising ceiling that another team might be enticed by.

Nashville Predators Should Get What They Can Out of Tolvanen

The Predators continue to roll out the rugged lineup with players like Zach Sanford, Michael McCarron and Cole Smith. Players that just aren’t going to produce you much offensive pop, and it’s not helping matters that the top part of the lineup isn’t producing to the level you need them to, either.

There are teams out there who would love to take on a project like Tolvanen. He has just one more year left on his contract after 2022-23, and he’s for a modest $1.45 million AAV. Pocket change for a team that might see some potential in him.

With that said, obviously the Predators shouldn’t just give Tolvanen away. You’re always looking for the right price before parting ways with your former first round draft pick in 2017 that had such high hopes to evolve into a power play specialist and high goal scorer.

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This was supposed to be the year for Tolvanen to put it all together for the Predators and cement a long-term future here in Nashville. For different factors, not all controlled by him, it’s just not panning out.

I would jump at a high round draft pick even as far back as a third rounder for Tolvanen. It looks like the Predators can’t hold off a rebuild much longer if this season keeps on down the same dark road, so why not acquire as much draft capital as you can before the bottom falls out?

If Head Coach John Hynes was allowing Tolvanen to work through it and not benching him regularly, then perhaps I’d be willing to pump the brakes on trading him this early. However, when he’s nothing more than a rotational player getting under 14 minutes of ice time per game, he’s basically just wasting away with this organization.

Another strong reason to consider trading Tolvanen is you have a prospect pool ripe with talent that you will need to make room for if indeed this season goes completely off the tracks. Forwards like Egor Afanasyev, Juuso Pärssinen, Tommy Novak and Markus Nurmi are all young players you can explore putting into the lineup if the season derails.

Even if Tolvanen isn’t traded, I’d expect to see one of the aforementioned prospects get a look very soon and more lineup shuffling to happen.

Despite the current sad state of the team, the future remains bright with solid draft classes over the past few years, including the 2022 drafting of Joakim Kemell. This season was GM David Poile’s last stand to make something special happen, and it’s been anything but that so far.

This odd development of benching young, offensively gifted players doesn’t stop with Tolvanen. Cody Glass is also getting benched, and was against the Kraken, and Philip Tomasino was sent down to the Milwaukee Admirals and hasn’t played a NHL game yet in 2022-23 despite playing in 76 games and notching 32 points in his rookie campaign.

Just an odd scenario all the way around, and Tolvanen makes the most sense among the young forwards as someone to trade if the right suitor comes along. It would be another failure by this organization with a drafted forward that had a lot of promise coming in.

The trade deadline isn’t until March 3 of 2023, so there’s plenty of time for this to take a more clear shape. If the Nashville Predators become sellers, then Tolvanen is at the top of my list to part ways with, followed by Dante Fabbro on the defensive side.

The writing is on the wall that the Nashville Predators and Tolvanen should part ways for the best interest of both parties involved.