The Edmonton Oilers finally made their first major move of the NHL trade deadline and general manager Ken Holland addressed a big need in the process.
The Oilers are acquiring defenseman Mattias Ekholm and a sixth-round draft pick from the Nashville Predators. In return, the Predators will be getting defenseman Tyson Barrie, forward prospect Reid Schaefer, the Oilers’ 2023 first-round pick and a 2024 fourth-round selection.
Ekholm, 32, has been a mainstay on the Preds’ blue line for the last decade and can provide exactly what the Oilers need right now: some security and stability on defense. Ekholm has five goals and 13 assists through 57 games in 2022-23.
While the Swedish veteran won’t blow off any socks with his offensive ability, he has consistently been one of the better two-way blueliners in the league and doesn’t appear to be stopping anytime soon. Edmonton is getting some financial certainty with this trade, as Ekholm is under contract through the 2025-26 season with a cap hit of $6.25 million.
"I feel like this team can really do damage in the playoffs and I’m beyond excited to join this group," Ekholm said after the trade.
"Honestly, it's the biggest chance of my career to (get) myself a Stanley Cup ring. In this stage of my career to come to a team like this that obviously has expectations of winning … that's all I am really focused on right now."
The Oilers have been looking for some defensive help throughout the last month or so, reportedly making calls about Arizona Coyotes stud Jakob Chychrun and Joel Edmundson of the Montreal Canadiens. It looks like the fit finally landed on Ekholm and the Oilers got their guy for just one player off their current roster and a slight sacrifice of some future assets.
Barrie has recorded 10 goals and 33 assists in 61 games this year. Even if Schaefer turns out to be a solid NHL player or the draft picks turn into something, when you have generational superstars like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on your team, you have to do everything to maximize your Stanley Cup chances. Holland seems to have done that with this deal and we'll see if he has anything else up his sleeve before Friday's deadline.