Seattle Kraken, Eeli Tolvanen

Learn From A Tolvanen Kraken Shift Diary

Former Nashville Predators 1st-round draft pick Eeli Tolvanen was claimed by the Seattle Kraken off waivers on December 12th, 2022. After learning the ropes and biding his time, he finally earned a spot in the line-up on January 1st. He’s been a mainstay since, contributing seven goals and two assists in his first fourteen Kraken games.

He entered the match with a two-game goal scoring streak, having tallied against the Vancouver Canucks and the Calgary Flames.

He’d score again in the Kraken’s 3-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.

1st Period

0:00 – :33 – Off opening draw and a chip in, pursued puck, but Columbus transitioned. Helped on back check on near boards. Created turnover. Broke up ice and took pass in the neutral zone, skating in on a solo rush and ripped a shot from the right circle off Elvis Merzlikins mask that deflected out of play.

3:05-4:21 – Hopped on to help in D-zone as Blue Jackets gained zone. Took two attempts to see a successful Seattle break-out. Gained zone, forecheck ended in pressure, a shot from the point and a scrum behind the net after Merzlikins held on. Tolvanen’s line, with Yanni Gourde and Oliver Bjorkstrand, stayed out through an O-zone face-off at 3:41. Columbus won draw. He coasted back as Blue Jackets gained zone but no threat developed. Waited as linemates did wall work. Headed up ice and on a rebound, he half fanned on a one-timer from the left wing circle. Puck was bouncing.

9:24-10:28 – Line chipped puck in twice and was able to establish forecheck on the second try. Tolvanen created a turnover and stole puck along the end boards near right wing corner and started sustained pressure. Ended up on the left wing with puck possession. Cruised along point and moved puck to the middle. Ended up winning another battle for the puck later to keep play alive and helped create a scoring chance.

12:27-13:07 – After a regroup, joined a rush and headed to the net. Was in position in slot as Kraken defenseman Will Borgen carried in on the right wing, ended up holding puck and taking it in behind the net. Tolvanen stayed in high traffic area and held position. As puck moved out to point, he slid back into the slot. A shot was covered by Merzlikins as Tolvanen jammed at a potential rebound.

14:59-15:43 – Battled off an O-zone draw. On Columbus clear, the Kraken were barely offside on the keep in. Neutral zone draw at 15:06. Blue Jackets won it and rushed in. Tolvanen coasted back and covered point man. At one point, with play along the end boards, he sank too low in front and was occupying the same space as his D-man teammate. Quickly corrected and moved up ice.

18:00-19:00 – Gained the offensive zone on the rush with linemates. Set up on the left wing boards. Let puck go to the point. Then let it go past him the other way in behind the net to Bjorkstrand. Ended up across the ice and broke up a clearing attempt, keeping the puck in deep. Pressure continued by Seattle but all perimeter. Columbus eventually gained possession and cleared. After Kraken D-men gained possession in their own end, Tolvanen’s line headed off.

— Solid Period. Active. Created turnovers on the forecheck and was actively involved with scoring chances. More comfortable on the forecheck than the backcheck, but coming around. Played 5:40 and had two shots on goal.

2nd Period

1:29-2:13 – Part of the second power play unit. In a battle along the right wing boards in the O-zone off a right wing face-off. Puck was centered and goalie Merzlikins poke-checked the puck out of the zone. Kraken forced to clear zone on a delayed offside after chipping in again. Penalty expired. On a Columbus rush, the Kraken created a turnover but then Tolvanen was poke-checked. Lost puck. Teammates regained and he headed to the bench before the next breakout.

6:30-7:10 – O-zone pressure. Had puck on the left wing down low, had two centering attempts, the first one blocked, the second one found its mark and Gourde was robbed by Merzlikins from the low right circle. Off rebound, Blue Jackets eventually gained possession and broke out. Tolvanen back-checked, but Columbus got their 7th shot of the game off and Philipp Grubauer held on for a face-off and a TV time-out.

10:13-10:45 – Least involved shift to this point by far. Circled back into D-zone for break-out and had to wait in neutral zone as the ‘D’ couldn’t determine which way to go with the puck. Finally, from center ice along the left wing boards, Tolvanen tipped the puck in deep. Columbus cleared quickly. On regroup, he headed off.

16:42-17:25 – Bit of a wait between shifts with a Kraken penalty kill wedged in-between. Not much flow to this one. Brief O-zone time, followed by neutral zone battle along the far boards, and then D-zone play. Had the puck tipped away from him by a teammate, resulting in a scoring chance from the slot. Grubauer the save.

— Not as dynamic as the 1st period, less involvement in general. Stats back it up. 3:19 of ice time in the second. No shots.

3rd Period

5:00-5:39 – After staying on the bench during a brief Kraken power play that started the period, that turned into a 4-on-4 and then a penalty kill, Tolvanen finally made it on five minutes into the period. What a shift! After hanging in the neutral zone waiting for a break-out, Tolvanen tipped the puck in deep. He and his linemates were relentless on the forecheck. Oddly enough, it was a turnover they created in the neutral zone, not the offensive zone, with a quick transition rush by Tolvanen, that led to his 8th goal as a Kraken. He skated across the blueline, used two defenders as a partial screen, and absolutely smoked a wrister top shelf glove-side.

7:30-8:29 – For the first (and only) time all night, Tolvanen’s line found themselves pinned in the D-zone for an extended period. It started with a D-zone draw and it stayed there. They chased, they battled, they covered, and eventually were able to get a save, a cover-up, and a whistle.

10:00-10:46 – D-zone draw, won by Columbus. Scrappy play along the far boards. Not much happening. Puck out of play on an errant shot. TV time-out. The whistle came at 10:21 and head coach Dave Hakstol sent the same line out. Off the draw, Columbus put on some pressure, had two shots on goal and Grubauer covered up.

13:43-14:11 – Play in the neutral zone, turnover led to a rush for Seattle but the puck was knocked down with a high stick. N-zone draw. Columbus chips in, weak shot, Grubauer covers. Line stays out for D-zone draw. Columbus won draw but turned the puck over at the point. Tolvanen joined 4-on-2 rush with some crazy passing down low, maybe one too many, that resulted in a sprawling Merzlikins save and a clear. Blue Jackets went on the attack but it didn’t last long and Tolvanen changed with possession.

16:10-16:40 – Not much happening. Possession changes, dump-ins both ways, ending with Tolvanen firing the puck out of play behind the Columbus net. Garbage time as the lines roll and this thing winds down.

17:47-18:30 – D-zone draw with Blue Jackets net empty. Columbus won it and fired a shot off the post. Kraken able to clear. Missed the net. Columbus regrouped and attacked. Gained zone. Lost puck. Two players up ice, Tolvanen hopped off.

— Solid period. We saw the thing Tolvanen is best known for; his wicked shot. A laser to give the Kraken the insurance they needed. He played 4:44 in the third period, finished at 13:43 and had 3 shots on goal.

Postgame, Kraken head coach Hakstol complimented Tolvanen on his defensive play, his accountability, and of course, that wicked shot.

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.