OTF Roundtable: Nashville Predators waive Eeli Tolvanen

The Forecheck staff sat down to share our thoughts, questions and emotions about Eeli Tolvanen heading to the Seattle Kraken after being waived by the Predators Sunday.

Rachel: I was pretty bummed on Monday, hoping beyond hope that Tolvanen wouldn’t get claimed. It was fairly shocking to see Sean Shapiro report that the Preds themselves thought Tolvanen would clear. This is pretty boneheaded move from the organization, and this organization has made more silly moves lately than responsible, smart ones. Every action has a consequence, and waiving Tolvanen will certainly have consequences. This is an active player that’s suddenly off to the other side of the country, and I’d expect the Nashville locker room to “feel” a little weird now. Was there even an attempt to trade Tolvanen? Even a pick or two would be better than nothing.

Nick: You know when you’re hanging out with your married friends Brittany and Kyle, and during the meal, Brittany keeps bringing up how Kyle bought the wrong type of jelly, and then Kyle says something backhanded back to Brittany, and then an awkward argument happens at the table, and then you go home and learn the next day that Brittany and Kyle had a HUGE blowup and Brittany wound up leaving the house and Kyle threw his PS4 headset at the TV, and you start to think “Huh... I don’t think that was about the jelly.”

Eeli Tolvanen is the jelly of the Nashville Predators’ fanbase.

I’ll be forthcoming and say I do not share the same opinion on losing Tolvanen as the majority of my OTF colleagues and the Preds universe, nor do I care to speculate about the reasons why he couldn’t quite capture that same magic he had in that shortened 2021 season. However, the separate conversation here—the one that has fans lighting up the torches and sharpening the pitchforks—IS worth having... why do the Predators continue having issues finding homegrown dynamic forwards? Are the scouts just absolutely whiffing in the draft? Is there a disconnect with how they’re being developed in Milwaukee versus how that talent is translating to the NHL? Does the coaching staff just not putting them in situations to be successful? A little from all columns?

That is the million-dollar question the Preds need to desperately answer, and soon. The current core is fast approaching the end of their prime, and the team needs dynamic scorers (plural) to be able to pass the baton to.

Keegan: I literally just learned about waivers like two weeks ago, but to my smooth baby brain it seems like sending a fair-to-middlin’ player into the ether for nothing in return is indeed a bad move. And everyone else seems mad about it. So. Also surely they didn’t really think he’d clear??? But on the other hand he made it all the way down the wire to Seattle, so what do I know. Mostly just overwhelmed by everyone’s feelings.

Katherine: I’m upset. But I’m not going to analyze the right or wrong of the situation. Instead I’m going to focus on memories.

I remember how excited I was when we drafted Eeli. We had just come within inches of the cup and everyone was saying we were poised to contend for years to come. And here was this scorer, maybe one-dimensional, but (as always) we needed scoring. A steal with the 30th pick.

And I got more excited during his first season with Jokerit. The early hat trick (youngest in KHL history) and then another a month later. I was pumped. I watched KHL highlights and purchased a Tolvanen Jokerit jersey, waiting forever for it to ship from Finland. That jersey likely won’t get much more wear, joining the other jerseys in my closet for prospects who didn’t pan out or favorites that were traded away. But it gave me some good times before that. At least once, I was mistaken as a fellow Finn by some visitors to Bridgestone. And it was complemented by no less than Paul McCann one night on my way through the MCC parking deck before the game.

But the real memory is Tolvanen’s first game of the 2018-19 season. The opponent was the Blackhawks and I came to the game wearing my Tolvanen jersey because he had just been called up. We were barely 2 minutes in when Fiala scored. 1-0. Less than 90 seconds later it was Tolvanen’s first goal. 2-0. I jumped up from my seat and looked down a few rows to my friend John (who had seats along the rail by the entrance tunnel in the next section over) and he was looking up at me with a huge smile and his arms in the air. I ran down the stairs and he hugged me and lifted me into the air.

The score was 4-1 by the end of the first, including a Tolvanen assist to complement the goal. That game was pure joy. The team played great, Pekka made amazing saves, and Tolvanen... That’s the memory I’ll always associate with Eeli Tolvanen: A team I believed could win and a young prospect with unlimited potential. That’s the way I would like to feel about this team. Maybe I will again someday. For now, I wish Eeli all the luck in the world with the Kraken. Make some other fans happy, and hopefully I can wear that jersey again some day when you visit Bridgestone.