I watched Eeli Tolvanen play last night versus the Waterloo Black Hawks in Game 3 of the USHL semi-finals in a match Sioux City won 3-0. Tolvanen went pointless, and apart from one nice dangle in close that almost resulted in a goal he didn’t create much in the way of offensive chances.
Tolvanen threw a few hits tonight which was encouraging, however many of them were on his opposite wing and were hardly bruising checks…the most notable thing about them was that they left him out of position…and that was a common theme on the night.
Even though he’s a left winger he spent more time on the right side than the left… and that included in his own zone. He covered the right-side defenceman about 20 percent of the time, preferring instead to be running around chasing the puck. Luckily it did not result in any goals against, but it’s not hard to see why he’s not on the Musketeers’ penalty kill.
The other concern with his game is his skating. His stride is pretty sloppy…he flails around a lot, making his mechanics less than efficient. There will be lots of work to do gaining lower-body strength if he hopes to be a good skater in the NHL…he has decent agility and quickness but his stride is certainly not very powerful at this point, and when you’re undersized, it doesn’t get any easier at the NHL level as he’s not going to gain positional advantages with sheer brawn/strength… he will have to make a strong offseason commitment.
One USHL-based NHL scout weighed in on the draft-eligible winger last night:
“He’s competitive in the same way guys like Sprong and Ho Sang are,” said the scout. “Competitive to score, etc. but you’ll never see them compete to get a puck out of the defensive zone and they cheat like crazy. Coaches and teammates don’t like them but they play and produce some in NHL… time will tell if they win.”