The Nashville Predators have agreed to move defenceman Mattias Ekholm via trade to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Tyson Barrie, Reid Schaefer, and a first and fourth round pick in this summer’s draft.
Predators Trade Mattias Ekholm to Oilers for Tyson Barrie
The Predators completed a deal today with the Oilers. Nashville received Barrie, Schaefer, a first round pick, and a fourth round pick from their counterpart in exchange for Ekholm in the trade. The exchange took place just prior to the 2023 NHL trade deadline.
Ekholm will be going to EDM…not fully sure of return, but multiple pieces/picks.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 28, 2023
By trading Ekholm, the Preds lose a top-pair blueliner averaging 21:44 in ice time per night. Aside from Roman Josi, Ekholm ranks atop their defence corps. Reimer, 34, started a few more games, but neither owned the best statline overall. With another three years on his contract beyond this season, trade rumours didn’t follow Ekholm for very long. However, Nashville wound up cutting ties early, clearly valuing the return coming from Edmonton a little bit more.
Heading the other direction, Edmonton gains a strong, experienced defenceman at a reasonable $6.25 AAV. The Oilers needed to bolster their blueline and Ekholm offers them something the team missed previously. Darnell Nurse gets leaned on really heavily in Edmonton, while Tyson Barrie played more of an offensive role. Ekholm replaces the offence-first style Barrie brought, with a defence-first approach instead. He’s a rugged shutdown defender who can eat tons of minutes on the penalty kill. His advanced metrics, while not phenomenal, certainly aren’t bad for a player coming from a struggling team where he was assigned difficult minutes.
This year, Ekholm collected 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) in 57 games played. His -1.0% relative Corsi leaves something to be desired, though he did start nearly 60% of his shifts in the defensive zone. In 719 career games before the trade, Ekholm played exclusively for the Preds and posted 63 goals, 205 assists and 268 career points. Nashville drafted Ekholm back in 2009 with their 4th round selection, at 102nd overall.
What This Means for the Future
This trade surely bodes well for an Oilers team that so desperately needs better performance in their own end of the ice. Year-after-year, the question for Edmonton remains the same. “How far can Connor McDavid carry this team?”
Well, now with a reasonable unit on defence, maybe that question won’t come up as often. Nurse, Ekholm, Evan Bouchard, Cody Ceci and Brett Kulak offer them five experienced, trusted defensive players on the blueline. This move certainly changes the scouting report on the Oilers going forward.
For Nashville, this comes as a surprise. They had Ekholm on the books for the foreseeable future. However, they embraced a rebuild and started making moves already, and obviously the implications go beyond just this season. This could be the sign of more changes to come in Music City.
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