Mattias Ekholm, Predators (30 years old, signed through 2021-22, $3.75M cap hit): As Juuse Saros keeps juicing the Predators’ win-loss record, defensemen like Ekholm keep slipping down various “trade bait” boards. But we might as well get two Predators defensemen out of the way first, as Ekholm and his upcoming colleague rank as the cream of the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline crop.
It makes sense that the Predators might get cold feet about trading Ekholm, as he checks oh-so-many boxes. Blueliners as defensively adept as Ekholm simply don’t hit the market (trade or free agent) very often. When given the opportunity, Ekholm’s also revealed some offensive upside, too. Combine those skills with his bargain cap hit and the notion that you can get two playoff runs out of his current deal, and it’s easy to see why he’s so sought-after. And he might just end up too valuable for the Predators to trade.
Ryan Ellis, Predators (30 years old, signed through 2026-27, $6.25M cap hit): About two weeks ago, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman raised eyebrows by asking if the Predators might trade Ryan Ellis instead of Ekholm. It seems silly that the Predators’ 2021 NHL Trade Deadline outlook could change so much after several wins, but hockey — and especially hockey goalies — can be tough to predict.
Ellis is an especially interesting name because, like Ekholm, he checks boxes on offense and defense.