The Nashville Predators have dropped defenseman Mattias Ekholm from their NHL roster this morning, just days after head coach Barry Trotz characterized his play as "horrible, absolutely horrible" against Vancouver. The Preds have announced on their website that he's heading back to the Swedish Elite League rather than accept an assignment to the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL.
Ekholm had admitted that hanging around in Nashville and only playing every third game or so probably wasn't in his best interest, but it is disappointing to see him play overseas this season rather than continue adjusting to the North American rink dimensions and style of play with the Admirals, where he'd also get the chance to play alongside fellow Predators prospects.
We'll have to stay tuned to The View From 111 to see if any further translated blogs provide insight into Ekholm's thinking here, as he hadn't really offered any insight into the Milwaukee-or-Sweden question while it was still speculative.
In 2 games with the Predators, Ekholm didn't make the scoresheet and only fired one shot on goal, but during his ice time the play generally headed in the right direction; he and Sergei Kostitsyn are the only Predators with positive Corsi ratings at this point, with Ekholm boasting a team-best +10.51. Offensive potential aside, Trotz apparently couldn't tolerate his decision-making on the defensive side of the ice, which is obviously a work in progress.
An excerpt from the Preds' statement follows after the jump.
Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced tonight that the club has assigned defenseman Mattias Ekholm to Brynas IF of the Elitserien (Swedish Elite League).
Ekholm, 21 (5/24/90), suited up for two of Nashville's first six regular season games - his first action in North America - going pointless while averaging 12:25 of ice time. The 6-4, 204-pound blueliner will be playing his second season with Brynas in 2011-12 after posting 33 points (10g-23a) in 55 games in 2010-11 en route to winning the Swedish Elite League Rookie of the Year award.