HT: 5-10 | WT: 189 | Shoots: Left
Team: Sioux City (USHL)
The Nashville Predators addressed their biggest organizational need in the first round of the NHL Draft, selecting right wing Eeli Tolvanen of the Sioux City Musketeers (USHL).
“This has been my dream since day one playing hockey,” Tolvanen told reporters moments after being drafted.
It was somewhat surprising seeing Tolvanen still available at pick No. 30 as he was projected to be a top-20 pick. He was Sioux City’s leading scorer with 30 goals and 54 points in 2016 – including 10 points in 13 playoff games. The good news for Preds fans; he averaged 4.7 shots per game last year — meaning he not only scores a lot, but he isn’t afraid to shoot the puck either.
Tolvanen is considered by many to be the best pure-goal scorer in this draft. He has a promising NHL future and could be a dynamic goal scorer on Nashville’s top-six sooner rather than later. With the puck on his stick, Tolvanen is must-watch hockey. He is the true definition of a playmaker. Regardless of where he is on the ice, when he shoots the puck he is dangerous. He can score from nearly anywhere. He does have some work to do defensively, but he was not drafted for his defense.
ISS Director of Scouting Dennis MacInnis had high praise for Tolvanen: “This kid has a rocket of a shot. Sniper that needs to play with playmaker. Gets himself into dangerous spots and has a shot that can beat any goaltender.”
As did Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek: “One of the top pure snipers in the draft this season.”
TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button even compared him to Vladimir Tarasenko of the Blues: “He can score in multiple ways and has the ability to threaten in a manner like Kucherov or Tarasenko.”
Although he was committed to Boston College, he was not actually admitted. Moments after being drafted, he mentioned he would like to turn pro. This could mean seeing Tolvanen in Milwaukee as soon as this year. Speaking with reporters, there is no question that Tolvanen is chomping at the bit to play in the NHL. And if you ask him, he isn’t that far away from making that dream a reality.
“I have to work on some stuff,” Tolvanen said after being drafted. “I think I’m going to be ready for the NHL after one year someplace else.”
“The USHL is such a great league,” Tolvanen said. “(They have) great players; I learned a lot the past two years. It’s great to play in the USHL and learn the smaller rink game as well”
Tolvanen admitted to becoming a fan of the Nashville organization during the playoffs.
“One day I wish I could play there,” he said. “It was unreal. I was watching on TV and I was feeling it. It’s unbelievable to be a part of the Nashville organization, they have the best fans in the league.”
It’s safe to say he is winning over the Nashville faithful already.