One of the biggest differences among many between the KHL and the other European leagues is that when a player is just a bit above everyone else, it so crystal-clear obvious in Finland, Sweden or Switzerland.
In the KHL, there are 50-60 other players at least who possess the same level of skill, and a very talented player is pretty much only one among other prospects, same as in the NHL.
Some higher, some lower, but still a very high level of skill.
Another difference, to speak purely technically, is the skill of shooting, especially those so-called “one-timers”. In the NHL and the KHL, the skill to shoot direct shots on a pass is something that is certainly required.
There is not so much time and space to begin to stickhandle with the puck because if you do, you will lose it most certainly faster than in a wink of an eye.
One player, a very young prospect who can master that skill already on a very high level is Jokerit’s Eeli Tolvanen.
Most of us have talked about Patrik Laine and his shot the last 2-3 years, but I’d say that Tolvanen’s accuracy is pretty much the same, it breaks the net.
The Canadian site Future Considerations say this about Tolvanen: “Elusive with the puck on his stick…likes to shoot and has an impressive accurate shot with an absolutely deadly release, “
And, the site Hockey Prospects follows with the same judgement: “He has the full arsenal of quick release snapshot, a powerful wrist shot and accurate one-timer on the power play, “
One can only agree with these sentences because they are true. Or you could say that “Super-Eeli breaks the net”.
Of course, he is talented, but behind that shot of Super-Eeli, there are hours of practising. Nothing you master over a night.
But, this is the future of the game; beyond the high-level handling of the one-timer, there is the speed on the skates as well.
Yet, there is another thing to mention in all of this if we speak of differences between the leagues, a very crucial factor, perhaps the most important thing of all:
It’s actually two-fold, but not separate, and one side is the ability to comprehend the game and the situations on the ice, the other side is to think and act as simple as possible in first hand.
In the NHL and the KHL, most players handle the “ABC” of hockey while in other leagues the players make it unnecessarily difficult for themselves on the ice or have misguided illusions and just try to show off, which leads to mistake after mistake.
Super-Eeli knows and follows the “ABC” as well if anyone wonders.
What’s the future of Eeli Tolvanen?
As it is now, I don’t see any end to his hockey career as a successful player. Yet, it is not easy to achieve titles, which is something we all have to remember as many great players have ended their long careers without a single cup.
However, Eeli Tolvanen has all the possibilities to be among the best players in the world within a 10-year range.
I hope myself that he will remain a humble and hard-working player, then I am quite sure that he won’t be without a title the day he chooses to switch career to something else.
Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do
Pele, former Brazilian football star, born 1940.
Eeli Tolvanen was drafted by Nashville Predators 30th overall in the first round.