Did the Edmonton Oilers steal Mattias Ekholm from under the LA Kings’ nose?
Photo credit:Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
By Zach Laing3 months ago
There’s no denying the significant impact that defenceman Mattias Ekholm made on the Edmonton Oilers blueline.
Acquired on February 28th, just days before the NHL’s trade deadline, the Oilers paid a heavy price moving Tyson Barrie, 2022 first-round pick Reid Schaefer and their 2023 first-round pick to acquire the services of Ekholm.
From the time when the Swedish defenceman stepped on the ice against the Toronto Maple Leafs for his first game in orange and blue threads to when the Oilers were eventually eliminated at the hands of the Vegas Golden Knights, he was dominant. With him on the ice at 5×5, the Oilers outscored their opposition 31-10 controlling 58.50 percent of the shot attempts and 61.04 percent of the scoring chances. The goal numbers regressed in the playoffs to an even 9-9, but the Oilers continue to push the pace of play in the post-season.
And now, it might appear that Ken Holland and the Oilers were able to steal Ekholm out from under the nose of the LA Kings.
According to The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta, the Kings had been discussing a trade with the Nashville Predators that centered around goaltender Juuse Saros. The package deal, he added, was believed to have involved multiple first-round picks and prospects.
One part of it? Apparently Mattias Ekholm.
That’s what LA Kings play-by-play voice Jon Rosen added on Tuesday not long after the team eliminated salary in a three-way blockbuster trade.
Just a day after the Oilers acquired Ekholm, the Kings traded goaltender Jonathan Quick, a conditional first-round pick in 2023 and a third-round pick in 2024 to the Columbus Blue Jackets for defenceman Vladislav Gavrikov and goaltender Joonas Korpisalo.
While Gavrikov was rock solid for the Kings and provided similar on-ice results as Ekholm did in Edmonton, Korpisalo — after a good stretch run down the regular season going 7-3-1 with a .921 save percentage — his game fell apart in the playoffs at the hands of the Oilers. Through the first three games of the first-round series between Edmonton and Los Angeles, he went 2-1 with a solid .931 save percentage.
But as the going got tough, Korpisalo got going. He fell off a cliff in games four, five and six allowing 14 goals against with a .839 save percentage as the Kings lost all three games. The Kings have been left with more questions than answers.
More fallout from this deal continues to come about as on Monday, the Kings were forced to pay up to clear salary in an attempt to keep both Gavrikov and Korpisalo — who are free agents this offseason. In the three-way trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Kings cleared goaltender Cal Petersen off their books, costing them defenceman Sean Walker, prospect defenceman Helge Grans and a 2024 2nd-round pick.
They didn’t get out of it scot-free also having to eat $2.025 million of Ivan Provorov’s contract (30 percent) as he was sent to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
It’ll be fascinating to see how the fallout from all of this continues as we approach silly season.
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at email@example.com.
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