Predators ‘on the brink’ of becoming sellers

Mattias Ekholm

Mattias Ekholm

TSN.ca Staff

The Nashville Predators are tied for the NHL’s second-longest active playoff streak at six years, but at 6-9 through 15 games this season, it appears the team may opt to be sellers at this year’s trade deadline.

Pierre LeBrun said Tuesday that the Predators have not made any firm decisions, but teams around the league are beginning to eye names on their roster.

“Yeah, I think that’s where this is headed. I don’t know that the Predators have outright decided that they are sellers, but they’re right on the brink,” LeBrun said. “And there’s some obvious names… Mikael GranlundErik Haula, they’ve signed one-year deals and will be UFAs at the end of the year. Those will be your pure rentals.

“But there’s a more intriguing name when I talk to teams around the league that they hope will be on the market, and I think there’s an absolute solid chance that the Predators at least listen, is top-four defenceman Mattias Ekholm who has been a long-standing member of that organisation. He’s got a year and half left on his contract at a real bargain price of $3.75 million. He does not have any no-trade protection and, again, this would really be about the Predators perhaps seeing what’s out there and if they don’t like it, then keeping him. Think of the Jake Muzzin deal from a couple years ago where he had a couple years where he had a year and half left on his deal. Alec Martinez last year, he had a year left.

“That top-four D that has a couple playoff runs in him can be appealing to a contender. That would be an intriguing name.”

The Predators dipped back into the free agent market in December to sign Granlund to a $3.75 million deal and add Haula on a $1.75 million contract. Granlund, 28, had three goals and seven points in 12 games this season while the 19-year-old Haula has four assists through 14 games with the Predators.

Ekholm has spent his entire career with the Predators since being drafted by the team in the fourth round of the 2009 NHL Draft. He has three assists through 12 games this season after posting eight goals and 33 points in 68 games last year.

The 30-year-old, who is currently on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury, is signed through next season $3.75 million cap hit.

The Predators are set to resume play on Thursday against the Columbus Blue Jackets after having back-to-back games against the Dallas Stars postponed earlier this week due to weather.