Predators News & Rumors: Ekholm’s Future, Expansion Picks & Forsberg

In this edition of Nashville Predators News & Rumors, we will go over something that was talked about briefly on The Hockey Writers’ show “Maple Leafs Lounge” involving Mattias Ekholm. Then, we’re going to go over The Athletic writers’ Dom Luszczyszyn, Erik Duhatschek, and Ian Clark seventh version of a mock expansion draft. They all had some interesting Predators picks. Lastly, we’ll touch on Filip Forsberg‘s future with the team.

Ekholm’s Future

If you haven’t tuned into shows here at The Hockey Writers, be sure to do so and learn from some of the best minds in the game. While listening to the Toronto Maple Leafs section, the panel talked about Chris Johnston’s appearance on the Steve Dangle Show and his odd mention of a mysterious big-name player being on the roster for opening night.

The panelists — Peter BaracchiniKevin Armstrong, and Jim Parsons Sr., AKA, The Old Prof — talked about who that could be, and one name that Baracchini brought up was Ekholm. It got me thinking, what does his future look like with Nashville?

The idea that he could be traded this upcoming season is still plausible seeing as he was in a lot of rumors previously. After this upcoming season, he will be able to test the free-agent market, and if the possibility of him leaving in the offseason is growing ever more likely, it would not surprise me to see him moved. However, he has said that he is open to re-signing with the team, so that’s good news. That being said, what could his next contract look like?

Mattias Ekholm Nashville Predators
Mattias Ekholm, Nashville Predators (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Thanks to CapFriendly, we can see that Ekholm is on an excellent deal at $22.5 million for six years, which is a $3.75 million average annual value (AAV). He’s going to want a significant pay raise, and no one should blame him. The number of contributions he has made on the blue line for the team is astronomical. I could see and understand a contract around or above $6 million AAV for about the same term. I think it would be another excellent deal for David Poile to pull off, as Ekholm could be considered a top-20 defenseman in the NHL. As everything starts to get going over the offseason, be sure to look out for more on his contract.

Seattle Expansion Draft Picks

The Athletic writers Dom Luszczyszyn, Erik Duhatschek, and Ian Clark put out their seventh Seattle Kraken expansion mock draft (June 17, 2021, The Athletic, “Seattle Kraken mock expansion draft 7.0: What the 32nd NHL team may look like in October”), and boy were there some interesting picks. To the despair of Predators fans everywhere, they didn’t choose one of either Ryan Johansen or Matt Duchene, but instead went alternate routes.

Clark picked Calle Jarnkrok, which is not a surprise at all. If the Predators choose to protect Viktor Arvidsson, Johansen, and Duchene, Jarnkrok is the player who is hung out to dry. Ron Francis should be licking his chops if that’s the case, as Jarnkrok has been a reasonably consistent producer of goals in his time with the team.

Calle Jarnkrok Nashville Predators
Calle Jarnkrok, Nashville Predators (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

Luszczyszyn chose Arvidsson after he “almost galaxy-brained myself into taking Matt Duchene because I really do think he’s in line to bounce back next year.” In my opinion, this could be the most likely scenario for Poile this summer. He signed two centers to ridiculous $8 million deals, and it would be a negative reflection on him if he exposed one or both of them. Everybody loves Jarnkrok, and he played exceptionally well when given top-line minutes this year. Arvidsson did perform well, but there seem to be some integral pieces of his game missing, making him the outlier.

Finally, Duhatschek chose Yakov Trenin, a vital piece of “The Herd Line” that dominated opposing teams during the regular season. If Francis and his front office are looking for an excellent analytical player that can provide a lot to the bottom six, Trenin is their guy. He’s cheap and can bring many skills to the table, which could be precisely what the Kraken is looking for in this draft. It would be tough to see someone like Trenin go, but it would be perfectly understandable if I were on the other side.

It’s going to be one hectic summer for the Predators’ front office this coming summer. There are so many options with both the 2021 Entry Draft and the expansion draft that it could leave many people perplexed at some of the choices. We will have to wait and see.

Filip Forsberg’s Future

Along with Ekholm, Forsberg was another player that said he was open to re-signing with the team in his postseason presser.

“I’ve loved every minute of my time here in Nashville, and I don’t see why I wouldn’t love the future, too… We have to see how everything plays out. I think David’s got some other priorities with the expansion draft and things like that coming up before that. At some point, we’ll definitely sit down and discuss that, I’m sure.”

Filip Forsberg, June 2, 2021

Forsberg, making $6 million AAV, is the Predators’ star forward and will most likely be looking for a big payday. Over the last few seasons, his numbers have been fairly consistent, but not where they should be among forwards. It is a little bit worrisome, but Forsberg could easily produce more than he has been with the proper adjustments and health stability. He was at a point per game a little over halfway through this shortened season, but unfortunately, it was all derailed by the injury bug that was plaguing the team.

Filip Forsberg Nashville Predators
Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

So, just like with Ekholm, what could a contract look like for Prince Filip? With his level of skill and ability to score a ton of points still not seeming to be “unlocked,” he could easily garner up to or around $8 million AAV. His flashy stick tricks both in warmups and during play attract fans, and at the age where he’s about to begin his prime, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him rein in some serious cash. One worrisome thing is paying him a lot of money like Johansen or Duchene, and then his production falling off the face of the planet, but seeing how he has fared with some sub-optimal seasons in terms of linemates and health, I’m not too concerned.

He could easily get a contract over $8-8.5 million, but they’re definitely could and should be hesitation from the front office to dish out another hefty contract. With Ekholm, you could probably get a deal, but it’s probably unlikely at this point with Forsberg.

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