The Nashville Predators have signed Eeli Tolvanen to a three-year contract worth $4.35MM. The deal will carry an average annual value of $1.45MM. Tolvanen was a restricted free agent and not eligible for arbitration.
Now 22, Tolvanen finally established himself as a full-time NHL player this season, playing in 40 games for the Predators. The 2017 first-round pick scored 11 goals and 22 points, but was held scoreless in the team’s short playoff run. He’ll have a good chance to increase those totals this season as he steps into a bigger role after the Predators said farewell to names like Viktor Arvidsson, Calle Jarnkrok, and Erik Haula.
These kinds of deals are the other edge of the David Poile sword. Though there have been several times his long-term contract extensions for veterans have been mistakes, he also has routinely locked up young players for a reasonable amount before a potential breakout. That’s exactly what could happen with Tolvanen, who has the potential to be a big offensive producer. If that happens in either of the next two seasons, there’s still time for this contract to be a big win.
For Tolvanen though, this is also a contract that likely guarantees him a roster spot. With just 47 regular season games to this point, he didn’t have a lot of leverage in contract talks and wouldn’t have been eligible for arbitration until next offseason.
With him signed, the Predators have now locked up all of their restricted free agents for the offseason.