Mattias Ekholm
Mattias Ekholm
29-Year-Old DefensemanD
Nashville Predators
2019 Fantasy Outlook
The left-handed defenseman was brilliant again in 2018-19, posting eight goals and 44 points while registering an impressive plus-27 rating, 47 PIM and 146 shots on net. His totals in the assists, points, plus-minus and shots on goal categories were all new career-bests. Ekholm has scored 18 goals over his last two seasons while registering a 6.4 shooting percentage. That's within one percent of his career average, which suggests he should be in line for another 8-to-10 goals in 2019-20, especially if he repeats his high shot volume. Ekholm should be good for another 35-to-40 points while registering a desirable plus-minus rating and 40-plus PIM in 2019-20, making him a fantastic No. 2 blue-line fantasy option. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a six-year, $22.5 million contract extension with the Predators in October of 2015.
Garners apple
DNashville Predators
April 10, 2019
Ekholm had an assist and three shots in Wednesday's 3-2 loss to the Stars in Game 1.
Ekholm had a career year with 44 points in 80 appearances, but he went cold with only a goal and three helpers in his last 22 games of the regular season. Ekholm will be expected to play a solid two-way game as a second-pairing defenseman, which may come at the expense of some of his offense.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
With high-scoring studs like P.K. Subban, Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis stealing most of the spotlight on the Predators blue line, it's easy to forget about a guy like Ekholm, who is more of a stay-at-home defenseman. That said, one should not discount his importance to the team on both ends of the ice. Offensively, Ekholm saw his output jump by 11 points last season (from 23 to 34), including a career-high 13 points on the power play. During the playoffs, he tied for fifth in team scoring with a goal and seven assists in 13 games. Defensively, he ranked third on the team in plus-minus (plus-24), second in blocked shots (117) and second among defensemen in takeaways (42). Ekholm is a steady, well-rounded blueliner who can do it all. He would be a steal as a mid- to late-round selection in your fantasy drafts this fall.
After taking a major step forward the previous season, it was one step back for Ekholm last year, as he followed up his career-high 35 points with a disappointing 23 in 2016-17. The dropoff is somewhat puzzling, as Ekholm saw increases in both overall ice time and power-play minutes while anchoring the Preds’ second defensive pairing alongside P.K. Subban, but he clearly took a back seat on offense to his new blue-line partner. Ekholm’s lack of improvement in shot volume despite the sharp increase in minutes is reflective of him assuming the stay-at-home side of the equation, letting Subban do most of the wheeling and dealing in the offensive zone. The 27-year-old Swede is likely to serve in the same role once again, limiting his ceiling to about 30 points, which makes him a back-end starter at best on most fantasy blue lines.
Ekholm took a strong step forward in his development last year, setting career highs in almost every major category, including points (35), plus-minus (plus-14), shots on goal (114) and average ice time (20:15). After spending two seasons in a third-pairing defensive role, Ekholm finally emerged as a guy the Preds could count on in a top-four capacity – one of the reasons why the team felt it could afford to trade Seth Jones for Ryan Johansen back in January. With Roman Josi and the newly acquired P.K. Subban expected to anchor the Preds’ top pairing, Ekholm isn’t likely to see another big jump in his numbers this season, but a repeat of last year’s stats shouldn’t be considered a disappointment.
Ekholm was a pleasant surprise for the Predators last season, doubling his offensive output from nine to 18 points over the season before. In addition, his average ice time jumped by over two minutes per game -- from 16:49 to 19:01 -- as he saw regular second-pairing duty alongside Ryan Ellis, and even saw second-line power-play duty, where he chipped in a goal and an assist. From a fantasy standpoint, you won’t necessarily win your league having Ekholm on your roster, but if you’re in a deep format, he might be worth a late-round pick. He figures to reprise a similar role on the Preds’ blue line this season, which means you could see a further jump in his scoring totals.
Ekholm, who signed a two-year, $2.075 million contract with the Predators in July, recorded nine points in 62 games for the Preds as a rookie last season. He showed real scoring potential in the AHL two seasons ago (10 goals and 32 points in 59 games) and in Sweden back in 2010-11 (10 goals and 33 points in 55 games). But so far with the Preds, his role has been more of a stay-at-home defenseman. The Preds will continue to rely on guys like Shea Weber, Roman Josi and Seth Jones to jump in and join the rush, while Ekholm will focus mainly on keeping the puck out of his own net. Bottom line, there's not much fantasy potential here.
More Fantasy News
Finds shorthanded spark in win
DNashville Predators
March 25, 2019
Ekholm recorded a shorthanded assist in Monday's 1-0 win over the Wild.
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Struggling through scoring drought
DNashville Predators
March 24, 2019
Ekholm recorded his ninth straight game without a point in Saturday's 5-0 loss to the Jets.
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Slows down in February
DNashville Predators
March 1, 2019
Ekholm registered four points in 13 games in February.
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Back in fold Saturday
DNashville Predators
February 16, 2019
Ekholm (illness) will suit up for Saturday's game versus the Golden Knights, Adam Vingan of The Athletic reports.
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Unavailable against Montreal
DNashville Predators
February 14, 2019
Ekholm won't play Thursday against the Canadiens due to an illness.
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