As Eeli Tolvanen watched the Nashville Predators play in the Stanley Cup Final just a couple of weeks ago, he witnessed the electric atmosphere inside Bridgestone Arena, then saw tens of thousands of fans on Broadway and had one thought - it would be unbelievable to play there.
On Friday night in Chicago, that thought became much closer to reality.
With the 30th selection in the 2017 NHL Draft, the Preds selected the Finnish forward to make him the newest member of the Nashville organization.
Tolvanen was ranked higher than 30 virtually across the board by experts, including No. 8 of all North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting and 17th overall by Bob McKenzie of TSN.
Video: Predators draft F Eeli Tolvanen No. 30
A 5-foot-10 winger, who amassed 30 goals and 54 points in 52 games during the 2016-17 season to lead the Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League in scoring and was named to the 2016-17 USHL First All-Star team.
Tolvanen has dreamt of this day. And sporting the Predators' brand-new ADIZERO home uniform, he couldn't have been happier.
"It's unbelievable," Tolvanen said of being selected by the Preds. "It's a great organization and I'm honored to be part of this organization."
Growing up in Finland, Tolvanen listed Finnish legend Teemu Selanne as a player he admired growing up. He doesn't yet have plans for next season, but expects to have something figured out soon, and hasn't ruled out playing professionally in 2017-18.
But as Tolvanen knows, getting his name called is only the first step of one day hitting the ice for real in Music City.
"You're waiting for that pick to come… and players are going before you, but it doesn't matter if you're first overall or last overall," Tolvanen said. "It's just what you do on the ice and off the ice every day. It's one step closer to the NHL and now the hard work starts."
Tolvanen seems willing to put in the work, and if things play out as he hopes, he may one day see his name among a sea of Gold jerseys in Nashville.
"They're just the best fans in the whole League," Tolvanen said. "I watched those games and it's just a hockey city.
"That would be unreal to play there. It feels great, and I'm excited. Now the hard work starts and hopefully I'm playing there in a couple years."