As we speculated yesterday, the Nashville Predators have signed defense prospect Mattias Ekholm to a 3-year entry level contract. It's worth noting that under the transfer agreement with Swedish hockey, the Preds needed to get this deal done by June 1, or risk losing his draft rights. This, from the Preds:
Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed 2009 fourth-round pick Mattias Ekholm (mat-TEE-uhs EHK-hohlm) to a three-year entry level contract.
Ekholm, 20 (5/24/90), was named 2010-11 Elitserien Rookie of the Year award - following the likes of Patric Hornqvist, Nicklas Backstrom, Loui Eriksson and Henrik Zetterberg - after ranking fourth among Swedish Elite League defensemen in goals (10) and points (33) in his first full season with Brynas IF. The 6-4, 204-pound native of Borlange, Sweden also tied for fourth among SEL blueliners in power-play goals (5) and 11th in plus/minus rating. In 2009-10 with Mora, he led all junior players in Sweden's second division (Allsvenskan) in assists (21), and ranked fourth among junior skaters in points (22).
Nashville's seventh choice, 102nd overall, in the 2009 Entry Draft, Ekholm earned a bronze medal while representing Sweden at the 2010 World Junior Championships, tying for the 2010 WJC lead with a +10 rating in the process. He also played for Sweden at the 2008 U-18 World Championships, notching a goal in six games, and won a gold medal with the Tre Kroner at the 2008 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
In light of some of the talk yesterday, in which David Poile mentioned the possibility of tapping into his defensive depth to trade for help up front, a move like this certainly gives him more options there. On the prospect front, you have Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Charles-Olivier Roussel, etc., all of whom may be coveted by teams around the league to varying degrees.
Personally, I see Josi and Ellis as having elite potential, and would not want to see them moved. Cody Franson and Kevin Klein are proven NHL talents who might also draw attention on the trade market, but of course moving one of them might force the Preds to bring up one of the prospects earlier than they might otherwise prefer.