|5v5 P/60||5v5 SAT%||5v5 SAT% Rel||5v5 SCF%||5v5 ZSO%||5v5 PDO||5v5 TOI/Gm|
Going into the year, Ekholm was a guy you could pencil into the third-pairing beside Ryan Ellis for some soft minutes. Not terribly much was expected of this young man, who still had the stench of that debut game in Vancouver where Barry Trotz called him "Horrible. Just, horrible." No one, and I mean no one, other than Filip Forsberg himself benefited more from the new coaching staff more than Mattias Ekholm. In fact, the Swede forged an alliance with Ryan Ellis and racked up the third most 5v5 TOI among Predators defensemen. That pairing became the "second pairing" as the season went along, and even when Ellis sat out with an injury, Ekholm still shined.
His game was not nearly as flashy as that of Seth Jones, Roman Josi, or Ellis, but Ekholm began to fit into the mold of the "enabler". In addition to being the "stay-at-home" guy, Ekholm carried the puck with a natural grace that elite defenseman possess.
Check out his hero chart above. His shot suppression is something to behold, and he took a large step forward this year. The numbers harvested for the hero charts go back three years, so his numbers elsewhere on the chart should begin racing forward.
Ekholm didn't score as much as his defensemen partners, but when he did....
...it was magical.
Do you see the picture at the top of the screen?
You cannot find me a picture of a happier hockey player during the regular season.
Not that we remember such things here.
Black bear. Not extremely dangerous, but you still have to be on the lookout for them.
Nah. Mattias is a native of Dalarna, a landskap in Sweden. The animal that represents this area is the Eagle Owl, or Horned Owl. Owls are known for being territorial animals with great vision, and versatility due to their climate. The owls from Sweden can be diurnal (hunt in both daylight and night). And yes, they are apex predators despite looking like cuddly owls. So we're going to go with the Eurasian Eagle Owl.
The Road Ahead
Ekholm is yet another solid building block on the Preds' blue line. And he has the rare and mysterious skill to shoot left. Due to his size, skating ability, and ability to play beside just about anyone next to him, he's a man this team should look to hold onto. His contract is rather nice as well. Ekholm will be an RFA at the end of the 2015-2016 season, and if anyone can get him to a long term deal that's comfortable, it's David Poile.