Winter Olympics: Best NHL Prospects for 2018
2018 Olympic Hockey Stars Will Impact The NHL
LW - Eeli Tolvanen – Nashville Predators
Easily the most impressive prospect of the tournament, Eeli Tolvanen earned nine points in five appearances during the 2018 Olympics. This was the second-best total for an under-19 player at the winter games, two less than Eric Lindros in 1992. Lindros had a pair of extra games to achieve his total, which means that Eeli might’ve broken the record if Finland survived the tourney longer.
This isn’t the first time Eeli’s turned heads. Tolvanen’s scored 34 points in 37 games for Jokerit, becoming the best under-19 scorer in KHL history, ahead of Yevgeni Kuznetsov. He’s also the youngest player to score a hat-trick in the league.
There’s a good chance that Eeli will become a key contributor for the Nashville Predators this season, joining the club for their playoff run. Tolvanen’s already proven maturity beyond the typical youngster in pro and international competitions, spurring front offices to inquire about Eeli’s availability. The Predators seem to know that they stole him as the 30th overall pick in the 2017 draft, potentially adding depth to their top-six forward crew right now.
C - Ryan Donato – Boston Bruins
If it weren’t for the United States group of young NCAA standouts, the U.S. Olympic men’s team would’ve had difficulty competing in the tournament. Donato ended up being the MVP for the Americans, scoring five goals and earning six points in five appearances. His two-goal performance against the Slovakian team salvaged what could’ve been a complete disaster at the 2018 Pyeongchang games.
Ryan’s been a star for the Harvard University team too, netting 21 tallies in 23 games, which ranks second in the NCAA. During the 2016-17 NCAA season, he finished with 21 goals and 19 assists in 36 games.
The Boston Bruins drafted this Massachusetts product as the 56th pick during the second round of the 2014 NHL entry draft. Similar to other Olympic standouts, Ryan’s performance makes the Bruins scouting department look like geniuses for identifying winning talent relatively late in the draft.
RW - Kirill Kaprizov – Minnesota Wild
As a fifth-round pick for the Minnesota Wild, Kirill Kaprizov certainly appears ready for his NHL debut. This KHL sniper netted a hat-trick for the Olympic Athletes Of Russia, ranking among the top ten in tournament scoring, producing with the likes of Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk.
He’s become one of the top forwards in the tournament, adding to a Russian attack which was already rich with NHL and KHL stars. As such, OAR has been dominating the 2018 Olympic tournament, remaining the favorites to take home the gold medal.
Kirill’s the third-best under-19 scorer in KHL history, notching 11 goals and 16 assists in 53 games during the 2015-2016 season. He’s one of four under-19s in the history of the league to earn 20 or more points, along with Vladimir Tarasenko, Eeli Tolvanen and Yevgeni Kuznetsov. Despite a brief controversy involving a sudden KHL contract extension, Kaprizov will likely join the Wild in the NHL over the next 12 months.
C - Troy Terry – Anaheim Ducks
Despite his young age, Troy Terry’s no stranger to representing United States hockey on the international stage. This budding star earned gold medals with the under-18 team in 2015, following up with another gold with the 2017 U.S. junior squad. Terry’s part of the NCAA cohort which inspired the U.S. men’s team in Pyeongchang, helping the American squad make it to the quarters.
During his 2018 Olympic journey, Terry helped to facilitate much of the American attack, contributing five assists during the tournament. In the 2017 World Junior tournament, Troy pulled off a performance reminiscent of T.J. Oshie and Jonathan Toews, netting a trio of smooth shootout goals to advance to the finals.
Troy will finish off his season with Denver University before making the leap to the pros. As an international standout and a nominee for the Hobey Baker award, Terry will likely make an impact for the Anaheim Ducks sooner rather than later.
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