The Nashville Predators got some good news today on the status of 2017 first-round pick Eeli Tolvanen, who has been playing for Jokerit of the KHL. The Predators’ plan, which is to bring the 18-year-old to the NHL and have him join the team for their Stanley Cup run this season, is that much closer today after Jokerit was eliminated from the playoffs Saturday and the Tennessean’s Adam Vingan tweets that Tolvanen is now free to sign with Nashville at any time.
Tolvanen scored a goal Saturday in Jokerit’s 4-3 loss to CSKA in Game 6 of their playoff series. The 30th pick in the 2017 draft has had a breakout year with Jokerit as he scored 21 goals and added 17 assists as a rookie.
However, TSN’s Bob McKenzie writes not to expect Tolvanen to hop on a plane and fly to Nashville tonight or even in the next day or two. McKenzie says that it may take some time for things to process, from a getting a release from Jokerit, to a contract, to dealing with immigration. Sportsnet’s John Shannon tweets the Predators will know more about Tolvanen’s status by Tuesday.
The other question that factors into the move will be whether or not the team chooses to burn Tolvanen’s first year of his entry-level deal. If he plays more than nine games between the regular season and the playoffs, he would burn that first-year of his ELC. However, while the team might be open to doing that to add another elite scorer for their playoff run, Vingan points out another factor the team will be considering as well. If there is an expansion draft for the Seattle franchise in 2020 (like many expect), Tolvanen would only be exempt from the draft if he does not play more than nine games this season. Assuming the franchise continues to be as deep as they are for the next few years, the Predators might rather have him exempt.