Kris Baker is once again counting down his list of top prospects available in the NHL Draft for Sabres.com. The first round of the 2017 NHL Draft will take place on June 23 in Chicago.
Team: Sioux City (USHL)
The sniping Eeli Tolvanen is front and center in the next wave of Finland's high-end draft eligible forwards, following in the footsteps of Aleksander Barkov (2013), Kasperi Kapanen (2014), Mikko Rantanen (2015), and the dynamic duo of Patrick Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi (2016).
Slick and crafty with a desire to play at an up-tempo pace, the exciting winger possesses top notch quickness and a strong skating game with an NHL-caliber array of shooting skills.
It's all offense all the time, as Tolvanen can strip pucks on the backcheck with a lightning quick stick and streak back down the wing in a flash to make things happen every time he's on the ice.
A natural offensive threat with an excellent acceleration, Tolvanen is wired to be high-volume shooter. In 52 games this season with the USHL's Sioux City Musketeers, Tolvanen scored 30 times on a league-leading 246 shots on goal, hitting the net 41 more times than the league's closest shot producer.
While he has excellent hands, the impressive shot total isn't a product of solely dancing through defenders as Tolvanen puts the work in off the puck to make himself available in scoring position.
The Finnish threat bolstered his draft resume at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, co-leading the team with six points (2+4) in six games as his country's bid to defend the gold medal came up short.
Tolvanen has been a big-time goal scorer at every level, and that is likely to continue when he enrolls at Boston College in 2017, where he is expected to work on his all-around game for at least a season or two before turning professional. The Oshawa Generals maintain his Canadian Hockey League rights in the event that he opts out of his collegiate commitment.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker's website, SabresProspects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@SabresProspects).
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