When the Syracuse Crunch signed Atte Tolvanen to an AHL contract for the rest of this season, it appeared as if they were courting the NCAA standout for a potential entry-level contract in 2019-20. Instead, Tolvanen was one of the players announced as signing contracts with the Lahti Pelicans of Finland’s Liiga today. The deal is apparently a two-year contract starting next season, ending the goaltender’s strong run in North America.
Undrafted, Tolvanen spent four years as the starter for Northern Michigan University and was a Hobey Baker nominee this season. He recorded a .917 save percentage through 39 games, posting five shutouts and a 21-16-2 record for the WCHA school. The brother of Nashville Predators prospect Eeli Tolvanen, he joined the Crunch down the stretch and showed he can also be successful at the AHL level, recording a .928 save percentage through six games. He’ll stay with the Crunch through the Calder Cup playoffs, but won’t be joining an NHL organization for next season.
Because they signed him to just an AHL deal, the Lightning will not retain any exclusive rights with Tolvanen going forward. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent again in a couple of seasons, and could potentially be a target for the NHL. It’s not as if he is the very best goaltending prospect in the world, but at just 24 there is still time for him to improve and show how dominant he can be with professional defensemen in front of him.