Nashville Predators Rookie Camp begins on September 10th, so to help you get ready we'll walk our way through the prospects, from youngest to oldest.
Mattias Ekholm, Defense - #42
Born: May 24, 1990 From: Borlange, Sweden
Height: 6-4 Weight: 204 Shoots: Left
2010-2011 Team: Brynas (Sweden)
Stats: 55GP, 10G + 23A = 33 Pts, 38 PIM
Drafted: 2009 4th round (102) by Nashville
Follow after the jump for some background!
Jay Levin summed up Ekholm's recent development well on the Preds' site, when talking about Nashville's bounty of budding blueliners:
But of the group, Ekholm has generated the most chatter. He entered the season under the radar for most pundits and scouts, but had a breakthrough campaign. Not only did he earn Rookie of the Year honors in Sweden, but he was impressive in his stints with Swedish national team. Ekholm moves the puck well and has solid offensive instincts, but what sets him apart is his size and ability to play to his size. Ekholm is already 6-foot-4 and a solid 200 pounds --- with the frame to add more --- and is as adept skill-wise as he is with his physicality.
Arbitrary nickname we'll give him even though he'd probably hate it
I got nothing here - any suggestions?
What's at stake
Ekholm is talked about as potentially earning some NHL ice this season, but you'd have to think that he needs to start in Milwaukee to demonstrate that he can handle the physical aspect of North American play, as well as get used to the smaller rink dimensions. My memory may be foggy here, but for example I seem to recall a radio interview in which Assistant GM Paul Fenton talked about Ekholm needing to learn when to make the simple play and chip the puck up the boards, rather than hold it and try to make a play, as is more common in Europe.
Take a good look at him during Rookie Camp, as he played like a man among boys at Development Camp this summer. Ekholm has really come on strong over the last year as a hot NHL prospect, and I suspect he'll play a major role here over the next few years.