The NHL Draft is right around the corner, and like many other years there’s a player that some experts mention is dropping down the draft rankings.
Right now it looks as though that player is Finnish winger Eeli Tolvanen, who appears to be an absolutely dominant offensive force on the wing.
I'm not really sure whose dog Tolvanen kicked, but he may not go in the top 20 Friday.— (((Corey Pronman))) (@coreypronman) June 21, 2017
Based on his production in the USHL where he was a point per game player, or an outstanding showing on a dire Finnish squad at the World Junior Championships, Tolvanen should be a top 15 pick.
However, if he is tumbling down the draft boards then Montreal has a chance to snag an incredible talent at 25th overall.
Birthplace: Vihti, Finland
First and foremost, the biggest tool in Tolvanen’s arsenal is a lethal shoot, combined with a love of putting the puck on net in all situations. In fact in terms of shot generation among draft eligible players in the USHL, Tolvanen is easily top of the class.
Best forward shot generators in USHL (non-NTDP) in their first draft season of the past decade. 2017 draft eligible are highlighted pic.twitter.com/PDv46pkHSd— (((Corey Pronman))) (@coreypronman) June 21, 2017
That type of shot generation is a sign of a player that can be a difference maker when they turn pro. Take, for example, Habs captain Max Pacioretty, who possesses a similar skill set which includes a high volume shot output and and a masterful release.
While not overly speedy, Tolvanen manages to be elusive on the ice. He uses quick feet and good vision to find ways to get open. While he’s a ‘shoot first’ player, he can slow the game down as to find his teams with passes, making him a versatile threat inside the offensive zone.
While a bit on the smaller side, he isn’t afraid to get into the dirty areas, or use his body to retrieve pucks from bigger opponents.
Like a lot of young, offensively inclined forwards, Tolvanen will need to continue honing his defensive game. He was scheduled to play for Boston College next season, but he was denied admission by the college, leaving his immediate future in doubt.
Tolvanen has solidified his status as a top NHL prospect with a solid showing in the USHL this year, but his play against his peers in the WJC has proven he is really an elite offensive talent. His offensive instincts and deadly scoring ability makes him a dangerous forward who has an ability to take over the game.
This kid has a rocket of a shot. Sniper that NEEDS to play with a playmaker. Gets himself into dangerous spots, and has a shot that can beat any goaltender.
Hockey Prospect Black Book
Tolvanen’s elite shot is what sets him apart in this draft class, and is a threat to score from anywhere in the offensive zone. He has the full arsenal of quick release snap shot, a powerful wrist shot, and accurate one-timer on the power play, and has great balance to get his shot off in a number of different positions.
Hockey Prospect: 24
Future Considerations: 11
Central Scouting Service: 8th(North American Skaters)
Bob McKenzie: 17
Corey Pronman: 7
One thing is extremely clear with Tolvanen, he’s an absolute force when he’s got the puck on his stick in the offensive zone.
The Canadiens haven’t drafted a high quality sniper since Nikita Scherbak in 2014, and Tolvanen at 25th overall would be an a slam dunk of a pick.
There is the matter of needing to restock the defensive pipeline after the Mikhail Sergachev trade, or the ever present need for a centre. That being said, it’s not every day that a high quality winger, who has an NHL level shot, drops into a team’s lap late in the first round.
If the rumors are true and Tolvanen is tumbling down the draft board, the Canadiens would be remiss to ignore his potential as a future NHL star.