The Edmonton Oilers are in a dogfight for a playoff spot, similar to last season. They will be getting Evander Kane back in the lineup, but scoring hasn’t necessarily been their problem this season. The depth scoring hasn’t been great but is improving as some of the young players get more comfortable. What has hampered the Oilers is defensive inconsistencies.
The problems in the defensive zone have caused them to blow leads, allow far too many goals, and give up a lot of high-danger scoring chances this season. Though they have shown the ability to play well in their own end, they are far too inconsistent, which is not a recipe for success if they want to push further into the playoffs and possibly win a Stanley Cup.
Moves are expected before the deadline, and topping their list of needs is a top-four left-shot defenceman who is a capable defender. Well, the Nashville Predators have a player who fits that perfectly and has been made available – Mattias Ekholm.
What Ekholm Would Provide the Oilers
Ekholm has been an impactful member of the Predators’ defence for many years and is part of the reason why they always have good numbers defensively. They aren’t getting the results they expected and are looking to make changes to their roster without rebuilding, and part of those changes are likely to involve the 10-year NHL veteran.
The Oilers continue to have defensive breakdowns, and the 135 goals they’ve allowed in 40 games cannot solely be blamed on the goalies. Between bad turnovers, failed breakout attempts, and lost coverages in their own end, it has cost them and put them in a tough spot. They are a playoff team and have so much talent that failing to qualify for the postseason isn’t an option. General manager Ken Holland doesn’t normally swing for the fences in trades, but putting up the assets needed to bring in a defenceman like Ekholm would be worth it.
Edmonton would be getting the 32-year-old for three and a half seasons. This may seem a bit too long, but the Oilers have to tighten up their play, and who better to help change the tune than a player who has been doing it for years? He is a top-four defenceman who can play both sides of the ice, and his Corsi is good for the starts he gets in the defensive zone. He is heavily relied upon in shorthanded situations and at key times in the game. While he is big (6-foot-4), will play the body, and is a great shot-blocker, he has offensive talent that is sometimes overlooked.