With the 30th Pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, the Nashville Predators Have Selected Eeli Tolvanen From the Sioux City Musketeers in the USHL.
About Eeli Tolvanen
Eeli Tolvanen is one of the better players coming out of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Projected by experts to be taken in the top-15 and considered by many to even be a top-10 pick, Tolvanen’s fall to 30th overall in the draft is a surprising one, to say the least. Despite this, the Nashville Predators are getting a fantastic sniper who isn’t afraid to shoot the puck from anyone on the ice. His production in the USHL with the Sioux City Muskateers speaks for itself as he’s scored 47 goals and 92 points in 101 games over the last two seasons, including 30 goals and 54 points in 52 games last season. Unafraid to shoot the puck, Tolvanen took 176 shots in his first city with the Musketeers before firing an astounding 246 shots on net last season, leading the entire USHL.
— NHL (@NHL) June 24, 2017
THW Prospect Profile Excerpt:
Joining a large contingent of probable first-round Finnish players in the first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Eeli Tolvanen just completed his second season in North America. Skating with the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers, Tolvanen’s shot volume has been impressive over the last two years. During the 2015-16 season, Tolvanen fired 176 shots on goal, and in this last season, he led the USHL with 246.
In international play, Tolvanen was a force for Team Finland’s U20 effort at the World Junior Championship, recording six points in six games. The disappointing Suomi side had to stave off relegation, but Tolvanen’s effort level was there despite the poor overall effort from 2016’s gold-medal country.
With the deadly release and accuracy Tolvanen has with his shot, the volume of rubber he is firing at net is important. He has a full repertoire in his arsenal and changes the angle of his attack quickly. Coupled with a lightning release and the swagger of a natural shooter, there is no doubt what Tolvanen is trying to do when he gets the puck on his stick. He is fine going into high-traffic areas on the ice but knocking in rebounds in front of the net is not his specialty. Tolvanen is a sniper in the purest sense.
Tolvanen has the shifty skating that you want to see from smaller players. He is slippery and can skate around a defender with a quick burst or simply worm his way through, under or around larger players. His nose for the net keeps him largely a north/south skater and
The issue with Tolvanen is the lack of size which will be held against him. Forwards that are 6-foot-5 have to prove the cannot play in the NHL whereas 5-foot-10 wingers have to prove they can. Tolvanen is not overly physical in the sense he can dominate a defender in the corners, but he has an attitude that has been both good and bad. But when taking on much larger players, possessing a chip on your shoulder is an added bonus.
One area that Tolvanen will need to improve is his overall defensive play. His interest in the defensive zone can come and go. Furthermore, his tenacious offensive skating does not always translate to his backchecking. That said, Tolvanen has exceptional offensive upside among his peers in this draft class.
How This Affects the Nashville Predators Plans
The Predators are coming off their best season in the history of their franchise. Despite losing in the Stanley Cup Final to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Predators are clearly in the discussion as contenders now due to their solid defense. One thing that is lacking from the Predators, however, is offensive production on a consistent basis. Fortunately for the Predators, Tolvanen can develop into a lethal sniper at the NHL level. While he won’t make the league for a few seasons, he has the potential to be a very good player on the Predators. His defensive deficiencies will also be masked in the Predators system given how solid their blueline plays on a consistent basis.
Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for seven years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.