The Oilers are reportedly talking to the Predators about trading for defenceman Mattias Ekholm
Photo credit:Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
By Cam Lewis9 months ago
The Nashville Predators are in seller mode.
They traded Nino Niederreiter to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday and then they dealt Tanner Jeannot to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday.
It doesn’t look like Nashville is finished, either. Jeff Marek noted on the 32 Thoughts Podcast over the weekend that the Preds are open for business when it comes to anybody on the team’s roster other than Roman Josi, Filip Forsberg, and goaltender Jusse Saros.
So, what might come next? According to Darren Dreger, the Edmonton Oilers have inquired with Nashville about veteran left-handed defender Mattias Ekholm…
Ekholm, now 32 years old, has been a mainstay on Nashville’s blueline for nearly a decade. They selected him out of Mora IK of the Swedish Hockey League in the fourth round of the 2009 draft and he broke through as a regular on their roster during the 2013-14 season.
The Preds inked Ekholm to a six-year, $22.5 million contract extension early in the 2015-16 season despite the fact he had only played 153 games at the NHL level. The risk paid off as Nashville wound up having a very good defender signed to an incredibly team-friendly cap hit of $3.75 million.
The 2016-17 season saw Ekholm emerge as a top-pairing defender for the Preds. He logged an average of 23:28 per game during the regular season playing as the defensive defenceman who played alongside P.K. Subban. During Nashville’s run to the Stanley Cup Final that spring, Ekholm put up 11 points over 22 games and logged 25:20 per night on average.
This season has been somewhat of a down year for Ekholm but that’s been the case for many players on the Predators. He’s in the red in terms of on-ice goal differential at 35-to-32 and the addition of veteran shutdown defender Ryan McDonagh in the off-season has seen his ice-time decline to 21:44 per night on average.
Still, you don’t have to look too far back to find excellent results from Ekholm. In 2021-22, he scored 31 points over 76 games while logging an average of 23:29 per game and he had an on-ice goal differential of 65-to-50. During the pandemic-shortened 2021 season, Eklhom put up 23 points in 48 games and had a wildly impressive 43-to-22 goal differential.
There’s no doubt that Ekholm would be a huge addition to Edmonton’s blueline. He would slide in as the team’s second left-handed defender, taking minutes off of Darnell Nurse’s plate while giving the Oilers a responsible veteran partner to play alongside Evan Bouchard. Eklhom would also be an excellent mentor for Philip Broberg as he continues to develop into an NHL defender.
The trouble, of course, is figuring out how to make it work financially. Ekholm is in the first season of a four-year, $25 million contract that he signed back in October of 2021. Given his $6.25 million salary cap hit, the Oilers would either need to send a couple of contracts back the other way or they’d have to get somebody to retain a significant portion of Ekholm’s contract.
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