Nashville Predators Parting Ways with Eeli Tolvanen Best for Both Sides

Eeli Tolvanen #20 of the Seattle Kraken scores on goaltender Sam Montembeault #35 of the Montreal Canadiens during the first period at Centre Bell on January 9, 2023 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Eeli Tolvanen #20 of the Seattle Kraken scores on goaltender Sam Montembeault #35 of the Montreal Canadiens during the first period at Centre Bell on January 9, 2023 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

Eeli Tolvanen has wasted no time at all making an impact on his new team after being waived by the Nashville Predators just one month ago today.

It left Nashville Predators fans angry, confused and numb from another failed development of a dynamic scoring forward by this organization. But maybe it was indeed best for both sides.

Tolvanen looks right at home playing for the Seattle Kraken. He’s playing for a team that’s utilizing his offensive abilities and playing some great hockey in 2023. They haven’t lost a game since the calendar flipped over to 2023 (6-0-0)

In those six wins, Tolvanen has three goals and two assists while averaging just 12:31 of ice time. The Predators were healthy scratching Tolvanen up until placing him on waiver, leaving him without an NHL game appearance for a month and a half spanning to New Year’s Day when he scored in his Kraken debut.

Is this Best for Both the Nashville Predators and Tolvy?

I have to admit I was pretty wrecked over seeing Tolvanen hit waivers. Going back to his 2017 drafting, I had high hopes that this effective shooter would become an integral part of the top-six forward group for years to come.

Tolvanen signed a three-year contract in August 2021 to a modest $1.45 million AAV and it looked like the organization was giving him the chance to prove it over this span to get the big contract later on.

Tolvanen would put up just 23 points and one power play goal in 75 games in the first year of that new contract. But there was promise and development shown in other areas of his game, most notably his physicality. He notched a robust 176 hits, which was sixth on a Predators team that is full of guys who like to throw the body around.

In addition to laying out the hits, Tolvanen registered 45 blocks which was fourth among the forwards on the Predators. He was playing a defensive style while still figuring out his top hockey trait, and that’s scoring with an emphasis on the power play.

Unfortunately, 2022-23 didn’t pan out in a Predators uniform. Tolvanen tallied just one point over his last ten games with the Predators before the organization seemingly lost patience and wanted to go a different direction.

The perplexing part to all of this was the front office somehow thinking Tolvanen would clear waivers. That seemed so unlikely considering Tolvanen’s young age and high ceiling for someone not to put a claim on him. The Kraken did, and they look wise for it in the early returns.

Now you have General Manager David Poile even admitting to Robby Stanley of 102.5 The Game’s Robby and Rexrode that they may have made a mistake:

Of course, you appreciate a general manager who takes ownership for an error on their part. And Poile is right when he says that they tried Tolvanen in a bunch of different areas. Does that mean it comes down to coaching and the system that Tolvanen just wasn’t fitting in? That’s what I’m leaning towards.

Tolvanen wasn’t a right fit with Hynes’ system 

Some players just aren’t going to maximize their potential under certain head coaches, and that could definitely be the case for Tolvanen with Head Coach John Hynes.

From a Nashville Predators perspective moving forward, they have some tricky decisions to make now that the team is hitting a sudden hot streak to the tune of a four-game win streak and points in nine of their last ten games.

The roster has opened up for young players like Cody Glass, Tommy Novak and Juuso Parssinen which made it much easier to healthy scratch and subsequently waive Tolvanen in the first place.

Parssinen and Glass looking so comfortable and effective in the lineup made it much easier to take the risk of losing Tolvanen on waivers. I just don’t know why they didn’t wait a little while to explore trade options and get something out of him instead of just waiving him.

Fans got upset not over those Parssinen and Glass ascending into the lineup over Tolvanen, but certainly over the likes of Cole Smith and Mark Jankowski and some others like Zach Sanford, who did clear waivers and has seven points in 15 games for the Milwaukee Admirals.

The Predators could certainly use Tolvanen’s offense if there was a chance he was going to eventually blossom here. The team remains among some of the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL. It’s not as if the Predators had an abundance of depth scoring and Tolvanen just was no longer needed.

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That’s where the frustration crept in when seeing Tolvanen repeatedly scratched from the lineup as the offensive woes continued and the team was losing. Some of these issues, at least for the last few weeks, have appeared to be resolved. The power play is still untrustworthy.

Unfortunately, Tolvanen just wasn’t utilized properly and both sides probably just needed to move on. The Predators are starting to find chemistry with this new lineup blended with young and veteran talent, while Tolvanen looks to have found an ideal landing spot on a quality postseason caliber team in Seattle.

The Nashville Predators and Seattle Kraken have two more meetings left in 2022-23. They’ll play twice in the span of two days at Bridgestone Arena in late March. If Tolvanen is really erupting at that point, then it could be a hard night for fans to welcome their Tolvy back.