According to TSN’s Chris Johnston, the Nashville Predators have placed former top prospect Eeli Tolvanen on waivers this afternoon. While the merits of putting the once-elite prospect on waivers could be debated, the move is also interesting in that it comes roughly an hour after the team learned it would be losing forward Michael McCarron for an indefinite period of time as he enters the Players Assistance Program. No corresponding move related to either player, has been announced at this point.
The 30th overall selection in 2017 by Nashville, Tolvanen quickly became one of the game’s more exciting prospects in short order. Considered a pure sniper, the winger was expected to change the face of Nashville’s offense and add a compliment to already-established stars like Filip Forsberg, Matt Duchene, and Ryan Johansen. Now 23, Tolvanen hasn’t exactly been a bad NHLer, but hasn’t lived up to the hype that had been surrounding him when he came into the league. This season, the forward has four points, two goals and two assists, in 13 games. For his 135 game NHL career, he has 25 goals and 26 assists.
Seeing a player with Tolvanen’s career path hit waivers surely isn’t unprecedented, however some may argue that the decision feels a bit soon, given his age and especially his track record of performance at the NHL level. In other words, though he’s not the player many were hoping for, he has shown he can certainly play at this level and at 23, there could be room to grow from it. Tolvanen’s placement does feel similar to the New York Islanders waiving of Kieffer Bellows earlier this year. Once one of their top prospects, Bellows put up 19 points in 45 games last season, then after suiting up for one game with the Islanders in 2022-23, was placed on waivers, claimed by the Philadelphia Flyers.