Sharks Should Have Claimed Eeli Tolvanen Off Waivers

On Dec. 11, the Nashville Predators announced that they were placing Eeli Tolvanen on waivers. When this news broke, it confused a vast majority of NHL fans. Tolvanen, who was drafted 30th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, had been a highly-touted prospect for a long time. He had flashes of high-end skill, but something was failing to click in Nashville. As a result, they decided a stint in the minors could be good for his development.

Related: Sharks’ 3 Trade Targets During the 2022-23 Season

Once Tolvanen was sent through waivers, it felt like the question was less, “will he get claimed?” and more, “who will claim him?” When Dec. 12 arrived, a surprising number of teams decided to pass on him. However, the Seattle Kraken figured this was too great of an opportunity to pass up, and they claimed Tolvanen. This has brought up the question, “why did so many teams pass on him?” While there are numerous reasons any given team could have passed on him, the San Jose Sharks seem to have no real excuse lined up.

Tolvanen Could Have Provided Depth for the Sharks

Perhaps one of the most significant issues with the Sharks is the lack of depth outside of the main core. Erik Karlsson, Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, and Timo Meier have produced the majority of the points scored this season. There are a few players who have produced outside that core, such as Alex Barabanov and Kevin Labanc, but they need more support. And Tolvanen could have been that support.

Eeli Tolvanen Nashville Predators
Eeli Tolvanen with the Nashville Predators (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

Tolvanen’s point totals have never been jaw-dropping. His best season was in 2021-22, when he finished with 23 points in 75 games. However, insane point production is never a need for bottom-six players. What the Sharks really need to get their season back on track is a shakeup. If general manager Mike Grier had taken a chance on Tolvanen, he could have been exactly what the Sharks needed.

Tolvanen Is a Low-Risk, High-Reward Player

At one point in 2017, Tolvanen was projected to go in the high end of the first round. Some projections even had him landing within the top ten. However, that ended up not happening, as he slipped all the way to 30th overall. What seemed like an odd choice at the time has since become understandable. However, there was still some level of potential in Tolvanen’s skill set that made him appealing to scouts. Now, he will get a chance to prove his worth with the Kraken.

Related: Eeli Tolvanen 2017 Draft Prospect Profile

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What bites the most about missing out on Tolvanen is that there was literally no cost to acquiring him. There was no trade since it was waivers, so nothing was being asked of in return. With the potential that a change of scenery could return him to the levels he was always projected to reach, it makes no sense why the Sharks would not have given him a chance. It would have never been a guarantee that he would pan out, but there was no downside other than another roster spot being taken up.

The Sharks have a long way to go before they can compete in any capacity, and this year has been difficult to walk for many fans. It has been a slow year with no real moves or progress in any direction. This, however, is the pain of a mediocre team. Tolvanen could have been a small move that could have brought in big results, but now, we will never know. Perhaps the Sharks will get another chance to acquire a player like him again, but only time will tell.

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