Matti-ing The Blue Line

How was everyone’s day today? Ken Holland made his biggest deal as Oilers GM this afternoon. Trading Tyson Barrie, Reid Schaefer, a 2023 first-round pick, and a 2024 fourth-round pick to the Nashville Predators in exchange for Mattias Ekholm and a sixth-round pick. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun tweeted that 4% of Ekholm’s contract is also being retained; that’s $6,250,00 going down to $6M. I am a bit surprised to see Barrie go. He was having a solid season, had a role in Edmonton’s generational PP, and had slightly improved his defensive play since Jay Woodcroft and Dave Manson took over behind the bench. Holland sold high on him, and I wish him all the best in Nashville.

Schaefer, who the Oilers drafted 32nd overall last summer, was one of their best forward prospects and has had another productive season with the Seattle Thunderbirds in the WHL this year, putting up 47 points in 44 games. And the draft picks are draft picks; it’ll take a good three or four years before the prospects those picks are used on make a big enough impact. The time to get things going was now. Ekholm was a rumored player of interest not long ago, and he was circled back to after any dream of an Erik Karlsson deal dove off a cliff. Ekholm is not as offensively gifted as Karlsson (how many defensemen are, though?). But he can still move the puck well and is solid in his own end. The most impressive thing about this trade is that it was done without sacrificing Evan Bouchard or Philip Broberg, who will benefit greatly from Ekholm’s veteran experience in the same way Bouchard learned from Duncan Keith last year. This two-way combo is what Edmonton really needed all along.

Having Ekholm in the lineup will reduce Darnell Nurse’s minutes and allow Nurse to simplify his game and not worry about doing more than he can handle. Moving Barrie’s contract and Jesse Puljujarvi’s earlier this morning equaled $7.5M being freed up. Then bringing in $6M from Ekholm gives Edmonton $1.5M to work with on Trade Deadline Day. Maybe Holland uses that to bring in a solid, cheap bottom-six forward. Perhaps he tries to swing another hefty contract to another team and get another defenseman. Regardless, for the first time in a long time, Oilers fans will have a boring Deadline Day in a good way.

Stanley Cup Aspirations Cue’ the Duck Boats Pod

The boys are back after a long break but have plenty to talk about as the playoffs are in full swing. We go series by series, looking at how teams have fared so far and who will come out on top. Thanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
  1. Stanley Cup Aspirations
  2. The Final Countdown
  3. Here Come the Playoffs
  4. Home Stretch
  5. Kevy Cooks

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