After taking a major step forward the previous season, it was one step back for Mattias 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 contributed an assist in Monday's Game 4 win against the Penguins. The 27-year-old now has three points over the past two games, and he's complemented them with 16 penalty minutes. Nashville leans heavily on its top two defensive pairings, which is a huge reason why Ekholm has averaged over 25 minutes of ice time this postseason. He has one goal and 10 assists to show for it, with three of those points coming on the power play.
Ekholm scored his first goal of the playoffs, collected an assist and racked up 12 PIM in Saturday's Game 3 win over the Penguins. This was quite the eventful night for the 27-year-old, who has logged over 20 minutes of ice time in every game this postseason. Ekholm isn't viewed as a goal-scorer, but he's a great puck-mover and has been a force on the Nashville blue line. He beat Matt Murray with a slap shot on the power play Saturday and is now up to 10 points this postseason. Ekholm doesn't possess the same offensive skills of fellow rearguards P.K. Subban, Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis, but he's a wall defensively who can still contribute up front on occasion.
Ekholm tallied an assist for the third game in a row in Sunday's Game 2 loss to Anaheim. The blueliner started the playoffs a bit slowly with two assists in the first nine games, but he's more than made up for it lately with four helpers in his last three. With eight shots on goal in three games compared to six in the previous nine, it seems like Ekholm has found his offensive groove.
Ekholm recorded two assists, four shots and two blocked shots while logging 31:05 of ice time during Friday's Game 1 overtime win against Anaheim. It had been a quiet postseason for Ekholm entering the Western Conference finals, but by no means was the 26-year-old Swede playing poorly. In fact, considering his huge role and strong two-way game, it figured to only be a matter of time until he popped up on the scoresheet. Ekholm isn't as flashy or renowned as his top peers in Nashville, but he shouldn't be overlooked as a low-priced flier in daily contests.
Ekholm was held off the scoresheet for the seventh consecutive game in Saturday's regular-season finale against the Jets. Ekholm was a major disappointment this season, as the Swedish rearguard delivered just 23 points following his career-high 35 points from a year ago. He even saw more ice time this season (23:28, up from 20:15), but just couldn't get anything going offensively most nights despite being locked in a top-four role. With defensive studs P.K. Subban and Roman Josi set to provide the majority of offense from the Preds' blue for the foreseeable future, Ekholm's fantasy value takes a significant hit going into next season following his less-than-stellar showing this year.
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Last 7 Games
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