Predators Trade Mattias Ekholm to Oilers for Big Return

The Nashville Predators have traded Mattias Ekholm and a sixth-round pick to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Tyson Barrie, Reid Schaefer, a 2023 first-round pick, and a 2024 fourth-round pick.

The Predators made it clear that they are sellers after they moved forwards Nino Niederreiter and Tanner Jeannot. Yet, Ekholm was their biggest trade target, and now the 32-year-old has found his new home in Edmonton. Here’s how the move impacts both teams.

Oilers Improve Top Four By Adding Ekholm

One of the Oilers’ biggest goals at the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline was to add a high-impact, left-shot defenseman to their group. They have done just that by landing Ekholm, and now their defensive group looks significantly better as they gear up for the postseason. Although the Predators have struggled this season, Ekholm has remained solid, as he has five goals, 18 points, and 62 hits in 57 games played.

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

Ekholm’s excellent all-around game will make him a big part of the Oilers’ roster moving forward. When looking at a specific spot for Ekholm in Edmonton’s lineup, he should slot perfectly next to Evan Bouchard on the second pairing. Ekholm plays a very responsible game defensively, so that would open the door for Bouchard to take more offensive chances. Yet, the 12-year veteran could also be an option to take over Darnell Nurse’s role on their top pairing.

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Ekholm is also far more than just a rental for the Oilers, as he is under contract until the completion of the 2025-26 season. As a result, the veteran will be a key part of Edmonton’s core for multiple years, and that is simply fantastic for them.

Predators Land Nice Return for Ekholm

It is hard to dislike the return that the Predators received for Ekholm. After all, they landed a skilled top-four defenseman, a promising prospect, a first-round pick, and a fourth-round pick for the veteran.

Barrie is a little bit of a surprising name to see in this deal, as he has had another solid season for the Oilers. In 61 games this season, the 31-year-old has 10 goals to go along with 33 assists. The British Columbia native will now be a key part of the Predators’ blueline, as he will play top-four minutes and quarterback their power play.

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Schaefer was selected with the 32nd-overall pick of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft and has the potential to become a top-six power forward at the NHL level later down the road. The 6-foot-3 left winger is having a strong season with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League (WHL), as he has 23 goals and 47 points in 44 games played. Besides being a solid offensive player, he also has been heavily praised for his immensely physical style of play.

Although it is never easy for a team to part ways with a key member of their core, the Predators should be satisfied with what they landed for Ekholm. Yet, at the same time, the Oilers must be ecstatic to have added a high-impact defenseman right before the postseason. Overall, this is a successful trade for both teams, and we will need to see how it impacts them.

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