Should the Boston Bruins pursue Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm if he hits the NHL trade market?
The answer from here is an emphatic yes!
According to TSN and The Athletic NHL insider Pierre LeBrun, Ekholm could become available at the right price as the Predators are realizing they may be headed for a bit of a rebuild.
“Yeah, I think that’s where this is headed,” Lebrun said on the most recent edition of TSN Insider Trading. “I don’t know that the Predators have outright decided that they are sellers, but they’re right on the brink. And there’s some obvious names… Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula, they’ve signed one-year deals and will be UFAs at the end of the year. Those will be your pure rentals, but there’s a more intriguing name when I talk to teams around the league that they hope will be on the market and I think there’s an absolute solid chance that the Predators at least listen is top four defenceman Mattias Ekholm who has been a long-standing member of that organization.
He’s got a year and half left on his contract at a real bargain price of $3.75 million. He does not have any no-trade protection and again this would really be about the Predators perhaps seeing what’s out there and if they don’t like it, then keeping him. Think of the Jake Muzzin deal from a couple years ago where he had a couple years where he had a year and half left on his deal. Alec Martinez last year, he had a year left. That top four D that has a couple playoff runs in him can be appealing to a contender. That would be an intriguing name.”
After watching left-shot defensemen Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara leave via free agency this past offseason, the Boston Bruins have been linked to numerous left-shot defensemen on the NHL trade market. As reported here numerous times, the Bruins have done their due diligence on 24-year-old St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn but is Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney zeroing in on a more experienced left-shot rearguard to bolster an inexperienced and now battered Bruins blue line?
“I think they’d prefer more of an offensive, puck-moving guy there on the left side in the second pairing,” one NHL pro scout told Boston Hockey Now Wednesday night. “That’s not to say that Ekholm doesn’t contribute offensively, because he does. But with [Matt] Grzelcyk now constantly in and out of the lineup, and him being kind of that next Torey Krug type guy to pair with [Brandon] Carlo, do they look for something more in that mold in case this drags on all season? They already have their shutdown guy there with Carlo so I don’t know.”
*It should be noted that Ekholm is currently on injured reserve and week-to-week with a lower-body injury.
That scout and two other NHL sources had not heard anything concrete that linked the Bruins to Ekholm on the NHL trade rumor circuit but that doesn’t mean they won’t jump into the fray. Based on Sweeney’s previous digging on left-shot defenseman on the NHL trade market, one would think the Bruins GM would at least explore what the price for acquiring Ekholm would be. The scout above makes a very valid point regarding the potential fit for Ekholm with the Bruins but as he acknowledged, the 30-year-old, 6-foot-4, 215-pound defenseman has also produced offensively.
Ekholm had eight goals and 25 assists last season and a 44-point season in 2018-19. He’s cracked the 30-point plateau four times in seven full NHL seasons. As LeBrun pointed out, Ekholm comes at a bargain price, and with the Bruins projected to have upwards of $14.4 million in salary cap space by the time the April 8 NHL trade deadline rolls around, there’s no reason to doubt Sweeney and the Bruins would be players for Ekholm on the NHL trade market.