As the rumblings continue over the Nashville Predators becoming heavy sellers, Mattias Ekholm is sitting firmly at the forefront.
With an expansion draft coming up and still in the midst of a pandemic, there’s a lot of complicating factors when it comes to moving players. But there’s no player on the Predators roster that’s a realistic trade piece that holds more value than Ekholm.
Ekholm has missed the last three games due to injury and during that span the Predators have really started their full collapse. The team can’t even find way to score more than two goals in a game.
Things look bleak for the Predators and their hopes of returning to the playoffs, and that likely means the team is going to become sellers and start the process of a rebuild.
Nashville Predators have a lot of trade pieces to consider
From Pro Hockey Rumors and Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the Predators are getting ready to move players in the not-so-distant-future. Navigating through the upcoming expansion draft is also an issue to deal with:
Friedman on 31 Thoughts says another reason the #Preds may be looking to move Ekholm is cause they have an expansion draft issue, they don’t want to protect 4 D again. You have to protect Josi, Ellis & Fabbro. They’re also high on prospect David Farrance, they think he’ll play.
— NHL Watcher (@NHL_Watcher) February 19, 2021
It’s a numbers game when it comes to protecting players in the expansion draft, and the numbers might not add up to be able to protect Ekholm.
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Each loss that the Predators take makes this all the more clear that it’s going to become a reality. Ekholm isn’t the only one in this conversation, but he’s definitely going to be the toughest one to lose for many Predators fans.
Ekholm has now spent a decade with the Predators and has always been widely overlooked on the national landscape. He’s not a flashy offensive player like Roman Josi, but he’s a hard hitter who shows up every game with intensity and smart defensive play.
For his career, Ekholm has racked up 199 points, early 12,000 minutes of ice time and over 700 blocked shots. Since becoming a regular in the NHL, he’s only played less than 80 games in a season twice.
There’s a lot of teams out there, including Stanley Cup contending teams, who would like to add Ekholm to their roster to make a playoff run. If the Predators were to deal him, a strong return should come of it.
I just did a recent piece listing some former players that were the most heartbreaking to see in another uniform, and Ekholm would join that list if he’s indeed traded away.
The trade deadline isn’t until April 12, but I anticipate moves to start happening way before that. With COVID-19 quarantine protocols, teams need to be swift in getting their new players into the system in time for the postseason.