All signs point to the Nashville Predators bringing their 2017 first-round pick Eeli Tolvanen over to the NHL as soon as they can
The Nashville Predators are in “win now” mode. Even if they make no trades by the trade deadline, they’ll be adding some reinforcements. Earlier this month, Mike Fisher announced he’ll come out of retirement. He’s been skating with the Predators and will sign by Feb. 26. Even after the deadline, Nashville has a lethal threat up their sleeve – Eeli Tolvanen.
Tolvanen seems likely to join fellow 2017 draft picks Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier, and Owen Tippett (among others) in the NHL as soon as this season. Craig Custance of The Athletic is reporting the Predators are planning on bringing him over to the NHL as soon as his KHL season is over. The playoffs start on Feb. 26, for what it’s worth.
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If his name sounds familiar, you’ve probably been watching the 2018 Winter Olympics. The Finnish forward Tolvanen put up a team-high nine points, along with three goals, in five games. Entering the semifinals of the medal round, he’s the Olympics leader.
More impressively, he’s done it as an 18-year-old. Eric Lindros is the only 18-year-old to put up more points in a single Olympics. Tolvanen’s 1.80 points per game in the 2018 games are the most for any player under 19 years old.
In 47 KHL games this season, he has 17 goals and 17 assists. Tolvanen’s 34 points are the most ever by an 18-year-old in a single KHL season. Every game he plays, it’s outstanding to think he fell all the way to the Predators at the 30th overall pick of the 2017 draft.
Because of a loophole, Nashville can bring in Tolvanen after the trade deadline and still have him eligible for the playoffs. Free agents must sign before the trade deadline. However, if a team already owns a player’s rights (which the Predators do since they drafted him), they can bring the player in past the trade deadline.
Nashville needs to add some scoring. It seems they’re open to adding a forward who can help with that by the trade deadline. This news about Tolvanen probably eases the pressure on general manager David Poile to make a huge move. At the very least, it gives him a bit of flexibility regarding his deadline strategy.
With all of this said, the Predators must weigh some future concerns before letting Tolvanen play. Seattle’s getting an expansion draft in the very near future. Should Tolvanen play this year, it would likely count as a year as far as service time, which would probably make him no longer exempt from having to be protected.