Nashville Predators Midseason Grades: Mattias Ekholm

Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm (14) is Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm (14) is Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Swedish Redwood. The Big Guy. All nicknames that Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm has earned and deservedly so. He may be the closest living example of what Vikings were actually like.

We are midway through the 2020-2021 regular season, and it is time for report cards to come home. I honestly don’t know if there is a more consistent player on the Nashville Predators roster this year than Ekholm.

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Bright Spot In A Rough Season

In a tumultuous season full of highs and lows, Ekholm has been a constant safety blanket on the blue line for the boys, and he rarely has a bad night.

To me, Ekholm is kind of a Shea Weber 2.0. They both play very physical and mobile games, but I think Ekholm does it just a bit better.

Ekholm is an incredibly strong skater, using his size and strength to outmuscle opposing players to the perimeter and making smart defensive plays if he is outmatched by superior skating ability and puck handling skills.

Ekholm often gets the high-pressure job of being paired with a more inexperienced defenseman. The Nashville coaching staff trusts him to be in the right place and cover any mistakes the newer guy might make.

To me, this speaks highly of how good Ekholm is, and I wish we had three more guys like him.

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A Solid Offensive Defenseman For The Nashville Predators

Defensively, Ekholm is always going to be solid, but his offensive capabilities are what catapults him to elite player status. He has an absolute bomb of a slap shot that is surprisingly accurate given its speed.

Power isn’t the only card up his sleeve, as he is a very gifted playmaker. Ekholm always has his head up looking for open players and, because of this, makes perfect passes to set up quality shots and goals.

In his past five seasons, Ekholm has tallied over 20 assists, making him an invaluable player on the team.

Ekholm gets an A+. To me, this is one of the easier grades on the Preds to give.

MATTIAS EKHOLM. A+. . Defense. Nashville Predators

Ekholm is a hard-working, physical defenseman and also a total nightmare for opposing goalies. He has been a mainstay on the penalty kill and is often called upon to grind out hard minutes to protect a lead (the few we’ve had).

The Ekholm trade rumors make my skin crawl because I believe he is one of the most important players on this team. But this is a business, and if he has to be traded, we better get a huge return for him because he will make any team’s blue line infinitely better.

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