Today's season-ending press conference at Bridgestone Arena provided a nice platform for the leadership of the Nashville Predators to recognize the achievements of the year gone by, and also look ahead to how the team will approach the 2011-12 season. Perhaps the greatest strength within the organization is the bumper crop of homegrown defensemen who range from the elite (Shea Weber & Ryan Suter) to legitimate NHL-caliber pros (Kevin Klein and Cody Franson) to rising prospects that any franchise would love to have (Jonathon Blum, Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi). Now, it looks like the Predators are about to add yet another big name on the blueline.
According to the Swedish Expressen site, 2009 4th-round draft pick Mattias Ekholm is currently here in the States negotiating a contract with the Preds, after watching the Admirals during their playoff run (which ended last night in a Game 7 loss to Houston). The report states that the Predators have offered a 3-year contract, with a projected development path that is probably similar to Roman Josi. As a prominent young player in the Swedish Elite League, Ekholm will likely need a year or more in Milwaukee getting used to the North American rink and style of play.
Ekholm, who turns 21 later this month, was a late cut from Sweden's entry at the World Championships, but was named the Swedish Elite League's rookie of the year after a strong campaign with 10 goals and 23 assists in 55 games for Brynas. He's a 6'4" left-handed shooting defenseman, and you can catch a little video of him in action here:
Thanks to 2ManyMenOTS on Twitter for the tip.