Update: The Calgary Flames Select RW Klim Kostin With the 16th Overall Pick in the 2017 NHL Mock Draft.
With the 17th selection of the 2017 SB Nation NHL Mock Draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs are proud to select Eeli Tolvanen from the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL. Although our sights were focused on adding a centre or defenceman, his scoring upside is simply too impressive to pass on. This 5’10 winger possesses an incredible wrist shot, and he surprisingly fell all the way to #17.
He continually stands out while playing in international tournaments, and he led Finland in scoring as an underage player at last year’s World Juniors. He also scored seven goals in seven games in the 2016 U-18 tournament, plus an even more impressive nine goals in five games in the U-17 event. Clearly, his track record is extensive, as his dominance against his own age group showcases his potential to provide terrific value at pick #17.
The Draft Board
As we got closer and closer to pick #17, our staff was interested in adding one of Tolvanen, Martin Necas, or Elias Pettersson. The latter was selected just a couple of spots before we picked, but we were thrilled to be able to choose between two highly-skilled forwards. Erik Brannstrom and Nicolas Hague also warranted some consideration, but Tolvanen was ultimately regarded as the best player available.
Heading into the mock draft, we did not expect to take yet another winger. The Maple Leafs are already loaded at right wing, but having too many top-end scorers is a great problem to have. Our main focus was to maximize our chance at landing an impact NHL player, and Tolvanen’s shot would add yet another major weapon to the team’s power play.
While Necas’ speed and work ethic was intriguing, Tolvanen’s quick release and extensive track record makes him the safer bet to score at a strong clip. His shot is borderline elite, and his quickness helps him to generate plenty of shots on goal.
Getting To Know Our First Round Pick:
Tolvanen posted 4.73 shots per game in the USHL this year, which led the league by more than a full shot. Opposing penalty killers must make him a priority, as he regularly picks a corner with a quick one timer. His shot production in the USHL compares well against big time players such as Clayton Keller, Dylan Larkin, and Brock Boeser, and this is a great sign for a #17th overall pick.
I profiled Tolvanen here, and called him the potential steal of the 2017 draft. There is tons of footage in that post, and his big time shot is constantly on display. Although he will not carry the way in terms of possession, we could not pass up the best finisher in this draft class at #17.
The 2017 U-18 tournament took place recently, and the majority of top performers rocketed up draft rankings. Tolvanen did not participate this year, but you can watch clips of his dominant 2016 tournament in the video below. He was one of the youngest players in this event, and the level of competition was much higher a year ago with ‘98 born players such as Tyson Jost, Clayton Keller, Alexander Nylander, Logan Brown, and Lias Andersson participating. After leading the tournament in goals in 2016, I’m willing to bet that his draft stock would be through the roof right now if he participated in this event this year.
The Big Picture
Kasperi Kapanen, Mitchell Marner, Nazem Kadri, and William Nylander are all former first round picks who were once criticized for their two-way ability. Drafting top-end scorers continues to be an effective strategy in the first round, and Tolvanen fits the bill in this regard. We cannot possibly expect him to become as good as these names, but adding a power play specialist and potential second line winger adds plenty of value to the organization.
Tolvanen is quick, an effective puck carrier, and will continue to get stronger. Superstars such as Steven Stamkos, Alexander Ovechkin, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Patrik Laine possess a better shot than Tolvanen, but the list is short. There is a bit of risk involved here, as he will need to score at a strong clip to make the NHL, but his goal scoring potential makes Tolvanen the 17th pick in this mock draft.
Current Draft Board
|6||Golden Knights||Owen Tippett|
|9||Red Wings||Cody Glass|
|12||Blues (From CAR)||Lias Andersson|
|17||Maple Leafs||Eeli Tolvanen|