NHL Rumors: Mattias Ekholm happy he didn’t get traded, Predators likely stuck with Matt Duchene, and who will be ESPN’s hockey crew

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Mar 21, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm (14) waits for play to resume against the Dallas Stars during the third period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

He was considered at one point the #1 trade deadline target. Then the Nashville Predators started winning and GM David Poile essentially pulled him off the table with his astronomically high asking price. In the end, Mattias Ekholm is right where he wanted to be.

Mattias Ekholm likely to remain with Predators past his contract

The 30 year-old defenseman has another year left on his deal with Nashville and it sounds like he wants to stick around.

“It’s nothing that I’ve really had to deal with a lot throughout my career,” he said Monday. “But when the team doesn’t do well and we don’t meet the expectations, things are going to happen. Now we were able to find a way to turn this around, and I’m really happy to be part of that. Because I’ve loved my time in Nashville.”

The Tennessean

When it comes to how the Predators feel, Poile seemed to echo Ekholm’s sentiments. “My next conversation with Mattias will be after this year about how he thinks he fits into the future of this hockey club and whether he would like to be here longer, not whether we want to trade him.”

Stick taps to Spector’s Hockey for pointing this article out today.

Matt Duchene’s contract and next season payout makes him hard to move

nhl rumors matt duchene
Matt Duchene on the block (NHLI/Getty Images)

Nashville made a big splash in free agency summer of 2019 by signing Matt Duchene to an 7 year deal worth $56 million. Unfortunately, the 30 year-old has not exactly lived up to contract with just 51 points in 92 regular season games with the Predators.

There’s been some talk about the Predators coaxing the Seattle Kraken to select him in the expansion draft but his AAV of $8 million is just one roadblock. The other is how his contract is structured with actual salary due next season at $10 million.

Either way, the Predators might be stuck with Duchene. There is not much of a market for underperforming players with big salaries, especially these days. (Duchene will make $10 million in actual salary next season, though half will be paid as a signing bonus.) Expansion could be the Predators’ best chance to dump Duchene, who has a modified no-trade clause that comes into effect in 2023. But convincing the Seattle Kraken to bite on Duchene will take some work.

The Athletic

Could David Poile convince Ron Francis to take Matt Duchene? It would no doubt take a first round pick and Nashville eating a large portion of his cap hit for the next 5 years. That’s why I believe the Predators are stuck with him.

Who will be ESPN’s Hockey Crew?

Older hockey fans like yours truly will remember ESPN’s coverage of the NHL. It was a big deal while it lasted and they had one of the best theme songs in Sports Broadcasting of any sport.

Now that the new deal is done, ESPN will be broadcasting hockey again.

So who is rumored to be on the broadcast team? Per Sean Shapiro, we should be seeing more of John Buccigross, Steve Levy, Linda Cohn and Barry Melrose on air. Gary Thorne will be back in a play by play role. ESPN’s top two hockey writers Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski will be featured as panelists on “Around the Horn”.