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He’s in: Eeli Tolvanen to make debut for Predators on Saturday night

2017 NHL Draft - Portraits

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 23: Eeli Tolvanen poses for a portrait after being selected 30th overall by the Nashville Predators during the 2017 NHL Draft at the United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

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The best team in the Western Conference -- and arguably in the entire NHL -- is officially getting a little extra help just in time for the start of the playoffs.

Nashville Predators coach Peter Laviolette announced on Saturday morning that 2017 first-round pick Eeli Tolvanen will be making his NHL debut on Saturday night when the team hosts the Buffalo Sabres.

Tolvanen took line rushes at the morning skate on the team’s top line alongside Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson.

The Predators selected Tolvanen with the 30th overall pick in the 2017 draft. He immediately made an impact in the KHL where he had a fantastic rookie season with Jokerit Helsinki, scoring 21 goals and adding 17 assists in 51 games. He finished as the team’s leading goal-scorer and was just one point back of the team lead in overall scoring even though he missed eight games and was by far the youngest player on the team. At 18, he was the only player on the roster under the age of 20 and one of only two players under the age of 23.
[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]

Once Jokerit’s season ended this past week the team and Tolvanen mutually agreed to terminate his contract due to an out-clause that he had.

He signed his entry-level deal with the Predators on Thursday.

Along with a great debut season in the KHL, Tolvanen was also one of the top players at the World Junior Championships where he finished with six points in five games then had nine points in five games at the Olympics.

With Tolvanen now officially in the mix the Predators’ lineup just looks downright scary on paper (and on the ice).

After reaching the Stanley Cup Final a year ago all the Predators have done since is add Nick Bonino and Scott Hartnell in free agency, trade for Kyle Turris and Ryan Hartman, bring Mike Fisher back out of retirement, and now bring over one of the more talented and intriguing prospects in the league. All of that for a team that already had a loaded roster led by Filip Forsberg, Johansen, Arvidsson, and the league’s best defense. Oh, and if that is not enough, their starting goalie is having a Vezina Trophy caliber season.

Related: Eeli Tolvanen is coming as the Predators get even stronger


Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.