The Nashville Predators have lost defenseman Mattias Ekholm‘s services, who is out week-to-week due to a lower-body injury. Predators coach John Hynes brought the news to the table on the local radio show, ESPN 102.5 The Game. Whether the injury is a lower or upper body is unknown at this time.
— Brooks Bratten (@brooksbratten) February 11, 2021
Mattias Ekholm Suffers Injury
An integral part of the Nashville Predators defence core, Mattias Ekholm, was put on injured reserve before their game on Thursday against the Detroit Red Wings. The 30-year old, six-foot-four, Swedish defenseman has been a staple of the Predators defence core since the middle of his career five years ago. He has continuously been touted as one of the most underrated defensemen in the entire NHL. However, this season has been an odd down year, along with last season. Last season’s problems can be attributed to Dante Fabbro‘s inexperience as an NHL player. He was forced to essentially carry the second pair with the departure of P.K. Subban.
This season is more of the same, but attributing it to Fabbro would be an incorrect placement of the blame. While Fabbro has shown clear signs of improvement in almost every area, Ekholm has continued to be lacklustre. Up to this point, Ekholm has three points in twelve games, all of which are assists. Additionally, he has some rough advanced metrics.
With a -0.5 Goals Above Replacement and a -0.1 expected Goals Above Replacement, Ekholm isn’t producing like he usually does. The eye test doesn’t help him either. A lot of goals have come because he played his gap wrong or was simply out of position. He’s also had problems putting his stick in the correct places, which inevitably allows cross-ice passes. There are a lot of issues with Ekholm’s game that needs to be fixed.
How Does Nashville Fill the Hole?
Despite the rough play from Ekholm recently, there is no denying that he plays an invaluable role in the defence core. He fills out the top four. He is also a significant physical presence that — outside of Mark Borowiecki — Nashville’s defence core lacks. The approach that Nashville took on Thursday, and will most likely take for the foreseeable future, is to slot Jarred Tinordi in on the second pair with Fabbro.
While Tinordi has his own set of problems, he is a big left-handed defenceman that can hit. The other possible scenario is moving up Mark Borowiecki next to Fabbro and bringing in Alexander Carrier, the stud Milwaukee Admirals defenceman. The latter is preferable to most Predators fans, but it is the more unlikely decision. No matter the decision, the Predators need to make do with what they have available.