5:37 pm: The Oilers have made the trade official, also acquiring a 2024 sixth-round pick along with Ekholm.
4:28 pm: The Edmonton Oilers have made their deadline splash, set to acquire veteran defenseman Mattias Ekholm and a sixth-round pick from the Nashville Predators, per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. A few moments later, Friedman reported on the return, announcing that the Predators will acquire Tyson Barrie, Reid Schaefer, a first-round pick in 2023, and a fourth-round pick in 2024. Later on, Pierre LeBrun of TSN reports that the Predators will also retain 4% ($250K) of Ekholm’s remaining contract.
Frequently the focus of trade rumors for the last several seasons, Ekholm will try to become the missing piece of the Oilers’ defense. After spending the last 12 years as a main piece on the Predators, Ekholm will look to transfer his two-way play to the Oilers’ back end. Since the 2015-16 season, Ekholm has always averaged over 20 minutes a game, spending time on both the power-play and penalty kill. He has the ability to block shots and create a lot of them himself, he should be the significant defense piece the Oilers have been searching for all season long.
In a surprise to many, Barrie is one of the main pieces headed back to Nashville. Benefiting by being on the same powerplay as Connor McDavid, Barrie’s playmaking abilities on the backend had a resurgence after his one year with the Toronto Maple Leafs. After signing a 1-year contract with the Oilers before the 2020-21 season, his play impressed enough to earn him a 3-year, $13.5MM contract extension. In the second year of that deal, Barrie will look to transfer his passing ability to a new-look team in Nashville. Although Barrie is most known for his offensive abilities, his possession numbers are quite good as well, earning a CF% of 54.9 throughout his career.
A now-former first-round selection of Edmonton in the 2022 NHL Draft, Schaefer will become a nice prospect the Predators will add to their system. After scoring 58 points in 66 games for the Seattle Thunderbirds, the Oilers used the 32nd overall pick to select him. Continuing to grow in the Western Hockey League, Schaefer has scored 47 points in 44 games so far this season. As the Predators have also acquired Edmonton’s first-round pick in the upcoming 2023 NHL Draft, they are guaranteed two young first-round talents if they hold on to the pick. As current GM David Poile transitions the reigns over to Predators legend Barry Trotz, Poile has left now left Trotz with 11 picks in the first three rounds of the next two NHL drafts.