Nashville Predators Ink New Deal for Mattias Ekholm Ahead of First Game

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 /

In what is already an incredibly exciting time of year with puck drop shortly over 24 hours away, Nashville Predators have eliminated one of the largest looming questions facing the team ahead of the 2021-2022 NHL season by locking up franchise stalwart defenseman, Mattias Ekholm to a 4-year contract extension.

The deal is worth an average annual value of $6.25 million per season, as reported by Elliotte Friedman. The extension kicks in time for the 2022-23 season.

A little fireworks for the Nashville Predators on the eve of their season-opener

Oh, how I love a good “Friedge Bomb” ahead of the season, especially for such an important member of the Nashville Predators organization’s past, present, and future.

The average annual value effectively replaces Ryan Ellis‘s former cap hit and provides Ekholm with a well-deserved raise for his efforts in Gold since being widely-considered one of the biggest bargain’s in the entire NHL at his current cap hit of $3.75 million, which he has been tied to since he signed a six-year extension back in October of 2015.

Now, just shy of two weeks to the day he signed that deal six years ago (as per Cap Friendly), we see the “Big Swedish Redwood” ink a contract that more closely ties into his consistent contributions to the Nashville Predators.

Across the NHL, since 2015-16, Ekholm has proven to be one of the most consistent and healthy two-way producers on the blueline collecting 192 points in 441 games, while perhaps even more notably only missing 12 games for the Predators across a span of six seasons.

Ekholm has been relied upon at various points of his career as the number one defenseman in Nashville during Roman Josi’s brief absences, and would slot easily as a number No.2 or No.3 defenseman on half the teams in the NHL.

Ekholm’s rare combination of offensive contribution, durability, and loyalty to the organization are just three of many reasons he has earned this extension, and is happy to stay in the city that drafted him in the 4th round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

So we’re not rebuilding?

If we look at this signing of Ekholm itself, it signals that General Manager David Poile is committed to sticking to his evaluation of this period Predators fans will be looking at, and that is a “competitive rebuild”.

Call it what you want, but it also signals that Poile is very much committed to remaining a playoff contender and not going “full on rebuild”. Take that for what it’s worth.

While that term sounds nice in theory, prognosticators league-wide who had the Predators finishing as near basement dwellers at the beginning of the season will have their eyes opened to what the Predators brass is thinking based on what they have seen from training camp and what their internal belief and expectation levels of this team are for this season and beyond.

Trending. Who Should Be In, Who Should Be out vs. Seattle Kraken. light

One major notable from Ekholm’s new deal is the lack of trade protection over the course of the entire deal. This is a day that Predators fans should be incredibly happy about this deal, though I will leave the assumptions to you as to what that means should things not go smoothly in Smashville over the next few seasons.

Today, however, the Nashville Predators have done right by a person and player who has been incredibly vital to the most successful years of this franchise and we can all look forward to puck drop against the Seattle Kraken tomorrow night now knowing that “Ekky” ain’t leaving anytime soon!