One of these days Eeli Tolvanen will finally hit the ice with the Nashville Predators. The 2017 first-round pick is currently with Jokerit of the KHL, but since the team is in the middle of the Gagarin Cup playoffs, fans in Music City will have to wait a little longer before he arrives in North America.
Tolvanen gave hockey fans everywhere another taste of his talents on Friday with a beautiful solo effort — his second goal of the game — in overtime to close out Jokerit’s opening round series against Sochi:
The 18-year-old Finnish winger has said it is his intention to sign a contract with the Predators whenever Jokerit’s season is over. General manager David Poile echoed those sentiments recently, according to The Tennessean.
“If we ever get Tolvanen, and he’s good enough to play and it’s this year, that’ll be great,” Poile said. “But in the future, when I look at our depth chart, Tolvanen certainly is going to get every opportunity to play on our top two lines. That’s just another addition that should pan out really good for us.”
Should they advance to the Gagarin Cup Final, it’s possible that Tolvanen won’t arrive until mid-to-late April, which could potentially be late in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs or early in second round. Given what the kid has produced so far at his age, his addition this season could serve as a positive injection into a Predators team that has eyes again on a deep playoff run.
Tolvanen scored 19 goals and recorded 36 points in 49 games for Jokerit this season, the best numbers for a player 19 and younger in KHL history, per Elite Prospects. Representing Finland in the PyeongChang Olympics last month, he finished tied for second in scoring with three goals and nine points as they reached the quarterfinals of the tournament before being knocked out by Canada.
He’s given fans plenty to get excited about, and Tolvanen is still developing and has big dreams.
“I’m too far away from them, they’re elite snipers. When I was young, I dreamt about shooting like Ovechkin,” he said in an interview with the KHL’s website in August. “Hope that one day I could be at his level.”