2022-23 Team: Nashville Predators
2022-23 Season: Eeli Tovanen has played 13 games so far in the 2022-23 season with the Nashville Predators, recording two goals and two assists.
Type of Acquisition: Waiver claim on Dec. 13, 2022
Tolvanen’s Pre-Kraken Career
Tolvanen was considered a can’t-miss prospect when he was drafted by Nashville 30th overall in 2017. Before even stepping on the ice for the Predators, he had already dominated the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and been named to the Olympic All-Star Team. He made his NHL debut on March 31, 2018, in a loss to the Buffalo Sabres.
Tolvaenen didn’t make the NHL full-time until midway through the 2021-22 season. During that time, he won World Junior Gold in 2019, had success at the American Hockey League (AHL) level and even spent the beginning of the 2021-22 season in KHL. So far in his short 135-game NHL career, he has 25 goals and 51 points.
Related: Blues Will Regret Passing on Eeli Tolvanen
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Tolvanen is a classic example of a player that just didn’t fit. This is not uncommon for young players. Take Dylan Strome as an example. After a tough start to his career with the Arizona Coyotes, he was moved to the Chicago Blackhawks, where he put up 51 points in his first 58 games with the organization. Sometimes all that is needed is a change of scenery, which is what the Kraken are hoping for from their newest addition.
Tolvanen’s Fit With the Kraken
Tolvanen fits best on a line with either André Burakovsky or Matty Beniers. While he can play both wings, he is left-handed and has played mostly on right wing, so that is the best bet on which side he will play on. He profiles as a shoot-first player and would benefit from having a strong playmaker that can set up one-timers for him on his line. This is also a player that needs to play in the top six to be most effective. While his defensive game has gotten stronger this season, and he has a physical element to his game, he could face difficulties playing a checking role for this team if placed on the third line.
As for special teams, Tolvanen should be given a shot on either the first or second power-play unit. The issue is that the Kraken’s power play has been so strong this season it is hard to find a place to put him. As for positioning, the best place for him would probably be in one of the faceoff dots so that he could be set up for one-timers. Look for him to replace either Jaden Schwartz or Daniel Sprong on the power play.
Related: Predators’ Tolvanen Belongs in Calder Conversation
This move signifies that Shane Wright will not be back with the team after the World Juniors. Unless the Kraken plan to play Tolvanen on the fourth line, there is no spot for the 2022 fourth-rounder that would allow him to develop properly. As has been written multiple times, after the World Juniors, it is time to send him back to the Ontario Hockey League.
Tolvanen is Low Risk/High Reward
This is exactly the type of acquisition the Kraken should be making. Bringing in a cost-controlled, young player who is making less than $1.5 million for this season and next who has a high potential. If the Kraken play him in the right position and give him opportunities to re-find his scoring touch, he could finally develop into the player most scouts thought he would. On the flip side, if he still struggles, the Kraken could try to move him for an asset either at this year’s trade deadline or next season. Regardless, it is a smart move by general manager Ron Francis and the type of player profile Seattle should be targeting in the future.