When he made his NHL debut with the Nashville Predators on Oct. 9, 2003, against the Anaheim Ducks, Tootoo became the first NHL player of Inuit descent (he is fluent in English and Inuktitut).
The Predators selected Tootoo in the fourth round (No. 98) in the 2001 NHL Draft. A two-time 30-goal scorer with Brandon of the Western Hockey League, Tootoo was a WHL East First All-Star selection and a Canadian Hockey League Third All-Star choice in 2002-03. He played in the 2001 CHL Top Prospects Game and won a silver medal with Canada at the 2003 World Junior Championship, getting a goal and an assist in six games.