Eeli Tolvanen’s North American professional profession has been a little bit of a multitude.
You could keep in mind all of the optimistic press he bought through the 2017-18 season. After turning professional within the KHL, Tolvanen had one of the best rookie seasons in KHL historical past with Jokerit and made the Olympic all-star group for Finland as a teen. When Tolvanen signed his entry-level contract after his KHL marketing campaign got here to an in depth, he signed an NHL deal and it regarded like he’d be an prompt success within the NHL.
However after a three-game stint to complete off 2017-18, Tolvanen could not stick to the large membership and was despatched right down to the Milwaukee Admirals. Tolvanen did not take any massive steps in his recreation, with Martin Necas, Filip Zadina and Erik Brannstrom taking extra management of the highlight as a substitute.
Tolvanen’s second North American professional season wasn’t a lot better, recording simply 36 factors in 63 video games for an Admirals group that seemingly would have contended for the Calder Cup had the season not been prematurely canceled. The 2020-21 season began with Tolvanen returning again to the Jokerit membership that helped form his recreation, and even there, he wasn’t something too particular with 13 factors in 25 video games. So the place is he now? Nicely, now he is a real Calder Trophy contender three years after making his NHL debut. It seems like a very long time coming, however the wait is beginning to seem price it. Tolvanen lastly is a full-time, on a regular basis contributor for the Predators, a membership that at present holds the very best document over the previous 10 video games with an 8-2-0 run.
How necessary has Tolvanen been over that span? The Finnish winger has been Nashville’s finest participant with 4 targets and 10 factors – Calle Jarnkrok and Roman Josi trailed behind with six factors every. Tolvanen has been efficient at each 5-on-5 and on the facility play with 5 factors apiece, however his three game-winning targets in that span ties him with Connor McDavid and Mika Zibanejad in that span. Clutch is not an precise hockey metric, but it surely positively helps describe Tolvanen when three of his 4 targets helped resolve the victory in Nashville’s favor. You are not discovering him deep within the lineup: he is there at Ryan Johansen’s facet on the highest line and doing completely all the things proper proper now.
It is beginning to appear to be the hype was actual, albeit not on the all-star high quality some made him out to be. The thirtieth general choose in 2017, quite a lot of consideration was turned to Tolvanen as soon as he began to make his mark within the KHL, leaving many to surprise if he was going to be the steal of the primary spherical. However that focus began to shift away from him and over to Edmonton’s Kailer Yamamoto after his emergence a 12 months in the past, however now Tolvanen is beginning to produce on the stage many anticipated him.
It did not begin off straightforward for Tolvanen this season, in fact. Issues have been ugly to start with when Tolvanen recorded only one level over his first eight video games, coming in his season debut on his solely shot in a 5-2 loss to Tampa Bay. However since then, he hasn’t gone greater than two outings with out a level to his credit score, and his ice time has gone from just below 12 minutes a recreation to over 15 on a constant foundation.
He is been so good, in reality, that Money Puck has him ninth in goals-above-expected with six. Tolvanen’s 3.7 goals-above alternative, per Evolving-Hockey, is fourth on the Predators, however behind Calder Trophy favourite Kirill Kaprizov (6.1) amongst rookies (Tim Stützle, for reference, sits at 0.4). Nonetheless, that is fairly one thing given how gradual of a begin Tolvanen had and what he is accomplished ever since to assist make the Preds a menace once more whereas sitting fourth within the aggressive Central Division.
Tolvanen is not lighting the league up by any means, the Predators are positively a greater group when he is engaged and enjoying effectively. Consistency is one thing that is been a tricky factor to harness in his professional profession and he usually will get criticized for being a one-dimensional perimeter-style participant. And that is truthful – Tolvanen is not a standout in his personal zone by any means and you may rely a few occasions an evening the place he is floating round an excessive amount of. Nevertheless it’s so arduous to cease his trademark wrist shot and he is persevering with to work with Nashville’s teaching workers to iron out a number of of the deficiencies in his recreation. The high-flying, no person can cease me offensive model he made work within the KHL could assist him succeed on larger ice, however he must nonetheless stay a menace on each shift he takes within the NHL to take his recreation to a better stage.
Tolvanen is not seemingly the big-time scorer the Predators really want, and, for essentially the most half, have hardly ever ever had within the lineup. However the group wants as a lot secondary choices as they’ll get, and with the way in which Tolvanen is enjoying proper now, he is fulfilling that want with little or no problem in the mean time.