Despite being under contract this season with Jokerit of the KHL, Adam Vingan of the Tennessean reports that Eeli Tolvanen could still play a role for the Nashville Predators. Vingan spoke to GM David Poile, who told him a late-season addition of Tolvanen “might be probable.” The KHL regular season ends at the beginning of March, but his contract—which runs through April 30th—would need to get an early termination similar to Vladimir Sobotka last season.
As Vingan points out, if Jokerit were to make the finals of the Gagarin Cup playoffs Tolvanen could be involved in KHL games all the way up to April 26th, which would also be several weeks into the NHL playoffs. The club is currently in second place in the Tarasov Division, only behind CSKA Moscow, and are destined for a playoff run.
Tolvanen was selected 30th-overall in the most recent NHL Entry Draft but made an impact right away in the KHL, and is now playing big minutes for the Finnish World Junior team in Buffalo. He’s also in consideration for the Finnish Olympic squad heading to Pyeongchang in February, which would certainly make his first season of professional hockey something to remember. The 18-year old was drafted out of the USHL, where he recorded 54 points in 52 games for the Sioux City Musketeers last season.
He does have a player option for next season with Jokerit, but the Predators will try to get him signed to his entry-level contract well before that. Remember, if he signs his deal this season and gets into 10 games with the Predators (regular season and playoffs combined) he would burn an entry-level year. That might be worth it for Nashville if he can play a role in a potential playoffs run, and could be enticing to him as a way to get to restricted free agent status earlier.