Nashville Predators’ Eeli Tolvanen Belongs in Calder Dialog

What do Martin Brodeur, Daniel Alfredsson and Tyler Myers all have in frequent? They every have the Calder Trophy sitting at residence of their trophy case. The Calder Trophy is awarded to the participant who is chosen as essentially the most proficient in his first 12 months of competitors within the Nationwide Hockey League.   

One of many many questions surrounding the Nashville Predators is will Eeli Tolvanen’s breakout season lead him to develop into a finalist for the Calder Trophy. It could be the primary time in franchise historical past {that a} participant can be nominated for the award. There are a ton of potential candidates this season, together with Kirill Kaprizov, Tim Stutzle and Ty Smith. Over the previous few weeks, Tolvanen has been solidifying a basis that may argue he belongs within the Calder dialog.  

Outstanding Presence on Energy Play

Tolvanen has been a vibrant spot on a really uninteresting Predator’s energy play. Because it stands he has 10 power-play factors, solely Filip Forsberg and Roman Josi have extra. He leads his group with 5 power-play objectives, which is greater than Patrice Bergeron and Alex Ovechkin. 

Nashville Predators ahead Eeli Tolvanen is congratulated after scoring a purpose in opposition to the Chicago Blackhawks(AP Picture/Mark Zaleski)

Again on Jan. 22, 2021, my colleague Dwayne Dunham wrote an article speaking about Nashville’s struggling energy play. In February, John Hynes started utilizing Tolvanen on the facility play and he made an nearly prompt affect. Through the month of January, the Predator’s energy play ranked 25th within the league — it has improved and now ranks 16th within the league. Tolvanen is a large purpose behind the success, his 10 power-play factors are essentially the most amongst all NHL rookies.    

Tolvanen made his NHL debut in March of 2018 at 18 years outdated. He registered one hit and had 13:34 time on ice together with 1:17 on the facility play. He made two extra appearances that season and in these three video games didn’t register a degree. 

Soar forward to this season, and he appears to haven’t solely secured a daily spot within the lineup, he has been enjoying on the highest line with Johansen as his heart man. Johansen spoke about linemate and stated, “He’s an exceptional expertise. Largest factor that impressed me is simply his work ethic and his compete on the puck and all of the little issues that you simply don’t discover on scoresheets. He’s actually dedicated to doing that as finest as he can. It’s been enjoyable to observe him. I’ve actually loved seeing him develop.” (from How the Predators prospect inflow is giving a disappointing season new objective, The Athletic, March 22, 2021) 

Eeli Tolvanen, Nashville Predators
NASHVILLE, TN – JUNE 30: Nashville Predators 2017 first spherical draft decide Eeli Tolvanen (68) is proven throughout the 2017 Nashville Predators Future Stars sport. (Picture by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire by way of Getty Pictures)

It’s no secret that the Predators have confronted a ton of accidents throughout this shortened season. Viktor Arvidsson and Colton Sissons are the one two gamers which have performed in each sport this season, however as they are saying, in the course of issue lies alternative. It’s undisputed that Tolvanen has made essentially the most of his 29 appearances this season.    

A Full Hockey Participant

Like Johansen stated, it’s all in regards to the little issues {that a} participant does on the ice. Tolvanen doesn’t simply lead his group in power-play factors. In 29 video games, he has registered 54 hits, which is tied for the group’s lead together with Mark Borowiecki, Yakov Trenin and Mathieu Olivier. The 5-foot-10 winger performs a bodily sport, and to my shock, has solely turned the puck over twice this season.

Amongst all rookie skaters, he’s sixth in factors, third in objectives, and tenth in assists. It’s price noting that he has achieved this enjoying in fewer video games than his rookie competitors. Tolvanen’s improvement and transition into the NHL has been sluggish, however is paying off dividends now when the Predators want him most.  

Throughout an interview with Adam Vingan of The Athletic, Hynes stated, “Generally younger guys can really feel like they need to bypass steps simply to be within the NHL, however whenever you’re going to be within the NHL, you need to have the ability to contribute. You need to be able to play. He can play evening in and evening out, and he performs an vital position on our group. He performs huge energy play minutes as a result of he’s prepared. If he wasn’t prepared, he wouldn’t be capable to play (in) the conditions he ‘s in. And now he’s having success. It’s an enormous credit score to Eeli, his mindset, who he’s a an individual and his character and need to do issues the suitable manner.” (from Eeli Tolvanen’s persistence is paying off for the Predators: ‘He’s an ideal lesson”, The Athletic, April 1, 2021)

John Hynes Nashville Predators
John Hynes, Nashville Predators (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

For all of those above causes, I can argue Tolvanen deserves to be a finalist for the Calder Trophy. He has been a distinction maker for the Predators all season lengthy. He’s third on the group with objectives (three of these have been sport winners), which is tied for the group lead. The younger ahead has labored himself right into a top-6 position and on the ripe age of 21, the Predators can solely anticipate higher from the Finnish participant.  

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