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Eeli Tolvanen not disappointed he fell to Predators in Draft

Forward was projected by many to go in top 20 of first round, dropped to No. 30

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- Eeli Tolvanen was on the ice Monday for the first day of Nashville Predators development camp after being selected in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago on Friday.

The Predators took Tolvanen with the 30th pick after he had 54 points (30 goals, 24 assists) in 52 games for Sioux City of the United States Hockey League this season.

"It's been kind of crazy," the 18-year-old forward said. "I was in Chicago with family. I got drafted on Friday and spent Saturday with my family in Chicago, and then I flew here Sunday morning. Now we're just starting camp, and it's hard work. The first day, it's not easy. It was the first time skating in four weeks."

Tolvanen was projected to be a higher pick, with multiple publications ranking him among their top 20 prospects, including all three NHL.com draft experts. The Predators felt fortunate to be able to take him with their first-round pick, and Tolvanen wasn't concerned about falling to 30th.

Video: Eeli Tolvanen talks about being drafted by the Preds

"There was some speculation I might go a little earlier, but it doesn't matter right now," Tolvanen said. "Nashville, right now, it's a great hockey city and a great team, so I couldn't be happier."

The Predators have focused on boosting their forward depth in the past few drafts, and they feel Tolvanen could be an effective scorer from the left wing as he continues to develop.

The Predators don't rush the development of their forwards, and Tolvanen will be no different.

"It's an evaluation camp," Predators director of player development Scott Nichol said. "It's to see where they are. It's to get some numbers on them for body fat, weight and strength, and vertical. It's good. That's what it's a part of, it's three, four years. We want to develop these guys so when Nashville needs them, they're ready to go."

The Predators also invited goalie Atte Tolvanen, Eeli's 22-year-old brother, to development camp. The elder Tolvanen feels like he has an advantage against his brother because he's so familiar with his shot and where he wants to place the puck.

Video: Eeli Tolvanen on joining Nashville

"You don't want him to like embarrass you or anything like that," Atte Tolvanen said. "But I know his shot so well, so it's kind of easier for me because I know what he's trying to do. So it's easier for me to go against him than most other guys."

Eeli Tolvanen hasn't decided where he's going to play next season. He was committed to Boston College but said he will not be going there and wants to take some time to figure out what his options will be for next season.

"I have no clue when I'm going decide," he said. "I haven't talked to my agent yet. We just have to sit down after this camp and decide where I'm going to play next year."

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