Seattle Kraken Roll Call is assessing every player who held a significant place in the fortunes of the 2022-23 Kraken season. We’ll be looking at the highs and lows they experienced during the last campaign, as well as what the future may hold for them in Seattle. Today we feature winger Eeli Tolvanen.
Position: Left shot winger who prefers the right side.
2022-’23 Kraken totals (GP-G-A-P): 48-16-11-27, 10 PIM
Contract Status: One season remaining at $1.450-million
Seattle Kraken Season Synopsis
Tolvanen was a pleasant surprise after being picked up by the Seattle Kraken off waivers in December from Nashville where he contributed two goals and two assists in 13 games during the early season for the Predators.
Tolvanen arrived in Nashville in 2017 with great expectations as the club’s late 1st-round pick that summer. He was considered by some to be the next great Finnish forward, but it was tough to make an impression while failing to crack an NHL roster full of top-end wingers.
As much as the scouts and player development types for the Predators loved his shot in particular, Tolvanen never really found traction. His move to Seattle and the change of scenery served him well.
“He was very excited when he found out it was Seattle,” Tolvanen’s Orr Group agent Michael Curran told Seattle Hockey Insider at the time. “He’s a new face in a new place and he looks forward to earning a spot.”
The name of the game now: “What have you done for me lately?”
Tolvanen will have to prove himself all over again after a solid 48 game regular season that saw him fire home 16 goals. He showed patience and maturity, given the fact that the Seattle Kraken made him wait from the time he was claimed on December 12th until New Year’s Day before he actually joined the line-up.
Tolvanen scored a goal in his first game with the Kraken against the New York Islanders and then tallied four more over his next seven games. That happened to coincide with the club’s remarkable seven-game road winning streak. So what was not to love.
HIghs And Lows
Tolvanen ripped home goals in three consecutive games in four nights at Climate Pledge Arena in late-January against the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames and Columbus Blue Jackets. After that hot streak the lighting-of-the-lamp became a bit more sporadic with just eight goals over his final 33 games.
In the postseason, Tolvanen chipped in three goals and five assists over 14 games. No complaints there given the environment and the nature of the postseason game. He was given ample ice time.
What would probably surprise people the most is that Tolvanen finished third among the Seattle Kraken forward group with 91 hits on the season. Fans familiar with the international game wouldn’t be shocked, considering teams from Finland generally play a pretty aggressive, sometimes chippy style of hockey. He also had the 4th most blocked shots of the Kraken forwards.
Tolvanen owns a wicked shot and he’s not afraid to take it. It’s high end with a 15.5% success rate last season in terms of shooting percentage. His possession analytics were strong and allowed him plenty of opportunities to fire pucks.
What the future holds
When Tolvanen arrived, we wrote this:
The good: A sniper with an elite release and excellent skills who’s not uncomfortable in his own end.
The not-so-good: He’s streaky and a bit inconsistent with his compete. A bit ‘light’. Needs to be more effective when he’s not scoring.
Both remain true but the compete improved as the season moved along; never a bad thing riding shotgun with someone like Yanni Gourde. The consistency factor will ultimately determine Tolvanen’s future. There will be a hearty competition for positions in the Seattle Kraken bottom-six forward group and some might view Tolvanen as vulnerable.
That said, he’s found his place and opportunity and this is a player with tremendous upside who’s only 24-years-old. A huge, productive season is just as much a possibility as any other result. Where prospects Ryker Evans on the back-end and Tye Kartye up front are burgeoning wild cards heading into Seattle Kraken training camp, Tolvanen is an established one.
It’s the time and place for Eeli Tolvanen to prove himself for the long run.