Eeli Tolvanen and Cody Glass make big statements in Prague
Is it way too early? Yes. Should we care? Maybe. Am I still excited? Absolutely.
The Nashville Predators opened up their season in a unique way by playing two games against the San Jose Sharks in Prague, Czech Republic. They came away with two victories, with the first ending by a score of 4-1 and the other being a much closer contest ending 3-2. Now that we’re a few days removed from the contests, there are two players who I’d like to focus on and how their performance should be getting everyone ramped up about the potential outcome.
During these international games, we got to see the kind of lines head coach John Hynes believed would be the most efficient and effective, and we got to watch these players get readjusted to the pace of an NHL game. Many Predators fans were focusing on two players: Cody Glass and Eeli Tolvanen, who played their minutes on the fourth line with Cole Smith. Both made massive statements coming out of training camp, hoping to prove in their ways that they deserved to be there.
With the NHL doing a feature on the Predators in their Behind The Glass documentary series posted on Youtube and shown on NHL Network, we can get a glimpse at what the thought process behind real-life decisions looks like in a front office. One of the most heartwarming things any hockey fan could watch is the video of Glass being told he made the team go to Prague. Tears fell down his face; he laughed a bit and thanked Coach Hynes and general manager David Poile for giving him this opportunity after a tumultuous start to his young career. He made it his mission to prove to the organization’s brass that he was ready to make the big step after lighting it up with the Milwaukee Admirals in the American Hockey League in 2021-22 following injuries that kept him out in the season’s prior.
As for Tolvanen, his story is different. After having an above-average rookie season that ended up being stunted by an unfortunate injury, he slumped in the scoring department in 2021-22. He scored only 11 goals and 23 points in 75 games, playing most of his time with Luke Kunin and Ryan Johansen.
Luckily, the last season is in the past, and Tolvanen has started 2022-23 off with a bang. He eventually moved up to the second line with Johansen and Niederreiter, but he made excellent plays on the fourth line as well. He continued to forecheck well and hit hard, which was something he focused on very heavily last season, but he also made plenty of smart plays with and without the puck, which some would argue was missing last year. Nonetheless, he made a big statement overseas, and the hope is that he can continue to look like a player who can make a serious impact in the top six of the Predators.
The Predators roster is a log jam. There are plenty of players fighting for the last roster spot, so these kinds of performances should be a great boost of confidence for the young guns. With Tolvanen in particular, we know the kind of stuff he can bring. He showed it to us in his rookie season. Everything from solid passing with a wicked shot from his off side was on display in Prague, and fans should be excited about the kind of season Tolvanen could potentially have.
Those two games were the first step of a long season that will inevitably be full of ups and downs, especially for young players. However, if Glass and Tolvanen can continue to find their footing in the Predators lineup, there shouldn’t be much doubt that they can be large contributors to the Predators' success in 2022-23.