Arrival of Eeli Tolvanen’s long-anticipated scoring touch boosts Predators’ goal-starved offense

By John Glennon

Predators fans have out of necessity learned to temper their expectations when it comes to 2017 first-round draft pick Eeli Tolvanen.

That process began as far back as the spring of 2018, when an 18 year-old Tolvanen arrived to a Peter Forsberg-like build-up in Nashville, the result of such a young player coming off a record-setting performance in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League.

He didn’t score a goal in three games that season, posted one in four games the following season and didn’t play a minute for the Predators last year, when Tolvanen spent the entire season with Milwaukee of the American Hockey League.

In the case of many NHL prospects drafted as young as Tolvanen, that would have represented a traditional developmental path – adding strength and speed, honing skills, improving one’s all-around game before reaching the sport’s highest level.

The expectations are greater, though, the timetable shorter, and the demands more immediate when it comes to first-round picks with flashy resumes. The disappointment, too, is more profound when players like Tolvanen fail to make the hoped-for impact in their first, second and even third professional seasons.

So if you’re watching Tolvanen’s production to date with a bit of a cynic’s eye, that’s understandable. It’s hard to give away one’s heart so quickly after getting burned . . .

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