The Nashville Predators officially signed forward Eeli Tolvanen to a three-year entry level contract this morning. The native of Vihti, Finland was selected thirtieth overall by the Nashville Predators in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft. He spent this season in Russia’s KHL with Jokerit where he set a league record for the highest scoring season by a teenage player.
Press Release via Nashville Predators:
Nashville, Tenn. (March 29, 2018) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Thursday that the club has signed forward Eeli Tolvanen to a three-year, entry-level contract.
Tolvanen, 18 (4/22/99), was selected in the first round (30th overall) by Nashville in the 2017 NHL Draft. The 5-foot-10 forward comes to Nashville from the Kontinental Hockey League’s Jokerit, whose season ended on Saturday following their defeat to CSKA Moscow in the second round of the Gagarin Cup Playoffs. In his first professional season, Tolvanen put together the most productive campaign by a teenager in KHL history, tallying 36 points in 49 games. His 19 goals and 17 assists are both KHL records for an 18-year-old and helped him earn a nod to the league’s All-Star Game on Jan. 14. Tolvanen claimed KHL Rookie of the Month honors in September and October and took four fewer games (40) to surpass Evgeny Kuznetsov’s mark of 32 points, the previous high by a teenager in league history. He notched a hat trick in his KHL debut on August 23, 2017, against HC Dinamo Minsk, the league’s youngest to ever accomplish the feat. In 11 playoff games with Jokerit this season, Tolvanen tallied six goals, tied for the most on his team.
“The thing that’s allowed him to translate and succeed at the men’s level as well as he has is that he thinks and executes at a very mature level for his age,” Predators Director of Player Personnel Jeff Kealty said. “It’s not just the goals, the assists and his shot, but the little things that he does, like the way he handles the puck and makes the right decisions in all areas of the ice. You always feel like the puck is in good hands when it’s on his stick and he’s going to make the right play when he has the opportunity.”
He competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics for Finland and had nine points (3g-6a) in five games, tied for second-most in the tournament and the second-best total by an under-19 player in Olympic history. Tolvanen has also represented Finland at the World Junior Championship twice, recording 12 points (3g-9a) in 11 games in both the 2017 and 2018 competitions. He won gold with Finland at the 2016 Under-18 World Championship and was his team’s leading scorer, tallying seven goals and two assists in seven games.
Prior to signing with Jokerit, the Vihti, Finland, native played two seasons with the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers, recording 92 points (47g-45a) in 101 contests. He earned USHL First Team All-Star honored in 2016-17 after he finished tied for seventh in scoring with 54 points (30g-24a) and had a +18 rating in 52 games. Tolvanen was also named to the USHL’s All-Rookie Team in 2015-16, his first with Sioux City, following a 38-point (17g-21a) season.
This has been an astonishing 2017-18 season for the 18-year old Finn. He was drafted late in the opening round of the 2017 NHL Draft out of the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers. He then signed with Finnish team Jokerit playing in Russia’s KHL. He exploded offensively and was able to break Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s league record for the highest scoring season in KHL history by a teenage player. Kuznetsov had 32 points (17 goals, 15 assists) in 44 games with Traktor Chelyabinsk during the 2010-11 season. Tolvanen ended this season scoring 36 points (19 goals, 17 assists) in 49 games.
That wasn’t all for Tolvanen though. He also had a big year representing Finland on an international stage during both the IIHF World Juniors as well as at the 2018 Winter Olympics. His efforts in PyeongChang were outstanding: 9 points (3 goals, 6 assists) in 5 games.
Tolvanen participating in practice this morning with the Predators who play tonight against the San Jose Sharks at the Bridgestone Arena. It’s not expected that he will make his debut tonight but, with 5 games remaining on the regular season schedule, he should factor in before the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin.
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