It’s that time of year again when trade rumors are swirling, and for the Nashville Predators, Mattias Ekholm is back in the mix.
According to Frank Seravalli’s first trade market board of 2023, Ekholm is being “considered” by General Manager David Poile to be traded:
Seravalli also cites that Ekholm doesn’t have a No Trade Clause, unlike that of Roman Josi, Filip Forsberg and Ryan McDonagh.
If this was coming from someone outside of the NHL insider market, I would probably just gloss over this. But Seravalli has his sources and inside information to maybe be onto something here.
Can the Nashville Predators Justify Trading Ekholm?
The problem I have with this scenario is that it’s way too early to tell if this will actually happen. The Predators, while definitely being an underperforming team to this point, is not so far out of the postseason picture that you’re ready to throw in the towel in early January.
Not even at the midway point of the regular season sit just four points behind a wildcard spot and six points out of a top-three spot in the Central Division.
The Predators have been showing promising progress as of late, especially on the offensive end. Forsberg is starting to find his beast mode status again, and there are newcomers on this team that are also making the offense run more smoothly.
The only way I can see Ekholm being moved is if the Predators are so far out of playoff contention entering February that Poile has throw up his hands and finally commit to a real rebuild. Not these catchy terms of “retool” or “competitive rebuild”. An actual rebuild, which dealing Ekholm would certainly get the ball rolling in that regard.
Ekholm has always been a huge part of the core of this team. For many years he was drastically underrated and overlooked. To a degree, he kind of still is. He is such a consistent and reliable force that it’s easy to forget about him. You just get used to him always showing up and putting in the work necessary.
There are several contenders that would chop at the bit to add Ekholm to their playoff push. Ekholm would bring in a massive return and set the table for what many fans have wanted for the past few years which is, rip it all down and start fresh.
With that said, it won’t be easy for a team to take on Ekholm’s remaining three years at $6.25 AAV. That will cut the market down considerably.
Ekholm is seventh on the Predators with 13 points and second among skaters in average ice time at 21:41, only trailing Roman Josi. Losing Ekholm would send an enormous ripple effect throughout this lineup and the way it runs.
Seravalli also mentions that it doesn’t stop with Ekholm on the trade market. He even mentions McDonagh as a possible trade piece.
Then there’s Dante Fabbro, who would obviously get way lower of a return, but is also a more realistic trade option even if the team is battling for playoff position come February.
There is still a lot that needs to be settled on the ice before we can really know for sure what Poile is going to do in respects to the trade deadline, which is March 3.
For what it’s worth, the Nashville Predators have points in six of their last seven games, and the one game they lost in regulation was to the Dallas Stars with under 60 seconds left. They are trending in a positive direction since before Christmas, and that will certainly play into how Poile decides who to trade.
If the Nashville Predators are within striking distance of a playoff spot, no way Poile deals a coveted defensive veteran like Ekholm. It will take the Predators completely falling out of contention.