A few people were surprised when the Nashville Predators assigned top prospect Eeli Tolvanen to the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL Sunday. Many believed with a solid training camp that Tolvanen was close to earning a full-time job with Nashville.
Nashville Post’s Michael Gallagher reported that it was a tough decision for Nashville staff, but with Tolvanen being waiver exempt and a team that is vying for a Stanley Cup, the team wasn’t ready to take a chance yet on Tolvanen, despite the progress he’s made since last year.
“He’s closer (to being NHL ready); let’s put it that way,” said Predators assistant coach Kevin McCarthy. “The biggest thing for him were the strides he’s made physically and coming in in better shape”
- The Minnesota Wild got good news on Saturday when injured forward Mikko Koivu returned to the ice and played in his first preseason game, playing 16:41 and showing that his season-ending injury is a thing of the past, according to The Athletic’s Michael Russo (subscription required). Koivu won 10 of 18 faceoffs and played 6:34 on the penalty kill, two key elements that Minnesota was lacking without him last season. “He did what we missed last year,” head coach Bruce Boudreau said. “He won faceoffs in our zone, he defended really well, he was responsible. For his first game in eight months, I thought that was really good.”
- In an early prediction of what the Winnipeg Jets opening day roster might look like, Winnipeg Sun’s Scott Billeck writes that it looks like Russian forward Andrei Chibisov has already earned a spot on the fourth line and with restricted free agents Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor still holding out, Chibisov might be able to earn a spot on the team’s third line. The 26-year-old signed with Winnipeg this summer on a one-year, entry-level contract and can be an unrestricted free agent next season. He played in the KHL for five years already and scored seven goals and career-high 20 points last season for Magnitogorsk Metallurg.