Mattias Ekholm understands his value as trade piece for Predators

Elliotte Friedman and Chris Johnston break down the latest news from around the league, with the Predators having potentially a very short list of untouchable players, and some hurdles preventing the NHL from delaying the draft.

In what will be a particularly interesting trade deadline in this shortened season of COVID-19 and quarantines, the Nashville Predators are one of the most intriguing team in terms of available (and valuable) assets.

Last month, Sportsnet‘s Elliotte Friedman reported the struggling team will be open for business, with defencemen Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis and veteran goaltender Pekka Rinne likely being the club’s lone untouchables.

That leaves the door wide open for Mattias Ekholm to be traded — an outcome the defenceman told The Athletic‘s Adam Vingan this week he doesn’t want, but understands is part of the game.

“I understand that part of it,” Ekholm told Vingan, adding that while he tries not to read too many reports about trade targets he does understand his name is out there. “I know that in my time in Nashville, I’ve been very fortunate to maybe not to be in those conversations, as far as I know. But now, when I guess our team is doing bad, we understand nobody’s happy, and neither am I with the way we have played so far. So with that comes decisions for management, and that’s just a part of it.”

Ekholm’s combination of age (30), affordability (his $3.75-million AAV covers next season, too) and talent (he’s among the league’s most versatile defenceman and eats a lot of minutes) makes him one of the league’s most desirable trade targets ahead of the April 12 deadline.

Ekholm, who also expressed concerns about the challenges of moving his young family during a pandemic, told Vingan he understands his worth to the team, in terms of what kind of return the Predators could get for him.

“Like, if I sucked on the ice, then it would probably be harder to see (that) they just want to get rid of me,” he said. “Here, I don’t think that’s the case. I think I still can bring something to the team, and I think I’m a pretty good player. I can bring value back to the team, so I understand that whole part of it.”

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