Mattias Ekholm Very Much in Play for the Nashville Predators to Trade

Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm (14) handles the puck in the corner during the second period against the Arizona Coyotes at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm (14) handles the puck in the corner during the second period against the Arizona Coyotes at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

If there was any doubt about the Nashville Predators‘ plans before the upcoming trade deadline, it is all but gone now. The evidence is mounting that they are ready to listen on almost anyone on their team, including Mattias Ekholm.

Trading Nino Niederreiter clearly shows that they are going to be sellers in the next few days, but it is not just that they made the trade for what was a 2024 2nd-round draft pick from the Winnipeg Jets.

The Predators have won two straight games and three of their past four since last Saturday, and history has shown us that if General Manager David Poile sees any semblance of a chance of a deep playoff run, he is going to go for it.

Poile’s recent comments to Robby and Rexrode of 102.5 The Game about the team’s status being “day-to-day” also made some of us think that he really was going to give this thing another try.

However, the Predators’ recent momentum was not enough for Poile to keep the band together, and despite what he said to the media, it very much looks like his mind was made at least a week ago.

Niederreiter is officially gone and you can expect Dante Fabbro to be out as well, but who else could be on the move in the next few days?

Nashville Predators are more likely than ever to trade Mattias Ekholm

The Predators as a whole have had a hard time figuring out where they want to go as a team over the past few years, and Ekholm has always seemed to find himself in the middle of that.

The team was reeling in the 2020-21 season, and with his contract at the time only having one year left after that, he looked like he was going to be the first one out before that trade deadline. But then plans changed, as the team went on a big winning streak, and not only was Ekholm kept, he was extended thereafter.

Ekholm is now in the first year of his four-year contract, and once again, he finds himself in the middle of trade rumors as the team starts selling.

It is far from the fairest thing for him, as he seems to never get a true answer on his future in Nashville, which would be unsettling for anyone in that situation.

Ekholm signed a contract with zero movement protection knowing where the Predators were, and knowing what could possibly happen if things went south.

Unlike last time Ekholm looked to be on the move, Poile has actually shipped off one of the bigger pieces while on a winning streak, and one that was brought in specifically to improve the top-six forwards.

Here we find ourselves looking at a real chance of Ekholm getting dealt, especially considering he carries the most value aside from the “untouchables”, which are Juuse Saros, Roman Josi and Filip Forsberg.

Ekholm still is what he has always been, which is a reliable defensive defenseman who will consistently help keep pucks out of his own net. He has also been well respected as a leader, and a veteran like that will always be a huge help to any team looking to go deep.

The Edmonton Oilers have been linked to Ekholm, as well as the Toronto Maple Leafs. I also would look out for the Los Angeles Kings, as they have consistently allowed a lot of goals and are a team the Predators have done business with before.

Any team who has had trouble on the defensive side of things and views themselves as close to contending for a Stanley Cup will be squarely in the mix for Ekholm.

Ekholm bring the biggest trade value for the Predators

While trading Ekholm makes perfect sense in theory, there are a lot of factors at play here, and ones that could still make it tough to get a deal done.

As mentioned, Ekholm has three more years after this one, so whoever decides to trade for him is going to be making a fairly serious commitment to him.

Traditionally, teams that have viewed themselves as contenders have been willing to take on guys with longer contracts if they are fits for their current needs, so I would not anticipate that as a huge holdup in a potential deal.

Then you have to look at the assets the Predators would want in return, and for a guy like Ekholm who they still value, he will not be cheap. Poile is likely to ask for at least two high picks, a younger promising player and a high pick, or maybe even more.

Teams will sacrifice a good bit if their Stanley Cup window is now and they view themselves as one big piece away, so I would not imagine that potential suitors lose much sleep over parting with picks and prospects in this situation.

What I think would be a bigger kicker than anything is potential salary retention in a trade.

Preds Trade Rumors:. Dealing Tanner Jeannot Starting to Make Sense. light

Ekholm’s contract carries a $6.25M cap hit, and it would not be easy for other teams to take that on knowing the current state of the salary cap.

I also doubt that the Predators would be willing to retain even a penny of his salary over the next few years, because at the end of the day they still think highly of him and will not make the trade unless an objectively good offer is on the table.

Poile could easily be in a situation where he decides that an offer for Ekholm is not worth it, and he decides to revisit in the offseason.

While the Predators’ situation is unlikely to change before the coming offseason, it always could, there might be some teams that would find it tough to pass up on Ekholm while they have the opportunity and Poile is listening on offers.

The bottom line is that an Ekholm trade is very much on the table now, and we have evidence to show that it may just happen before Friday’s deadline.