Finland’s medal chances at the upcoming World Junior Championship just got a huge upgrade. According to the AHL transactions page, Eeli Tolvanen has been loaned to Finland by the Nashville Predators. Tolvanen has split his time between the Predators and Milwaukee Admirals this season, but will now be away from the organization until early January.
This is a game-changer for the Finnish team, who also recently received Henri Jokiharju to lead their defense corps. Without the likes of Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Miro Heiskanen, the country looked to be in trouble with an extremely young and inexperienced group. Tolvanen changes all that, at least up front, as he brings experience from the last two World Juniors and also participated in the Olympics and World Championships last year. In fact, the teenager actually tied for the Olympic lead in goals and was the only non-Russian player to register more than seven points in the tournament. That kind of international success should be a huge factor as Finland tries to establish itself as a medal contender once again.
After finding huge success for Jokerit last season as a rookie in the KHL, Tolvanen hasn’t had quite the same impact in North America. Though he did register his first NHL goal earlier this season, his time in the minor leagues has been more difficult with just 12 points in 24 games. Getting him into a tournament against his own age group can only do good things for his development at this point, and should spark his offensive game once again.