Toronto Maple Leafs: Choose your Predator Mikael Granlund vs Mattias Ekholm

Mikael Granlund, Mattias Ekholm, Nashville Predators (Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)
Mikael Granlund, Mattias Ekholm, Nashville Predators (Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Mikael Granlund, Nashville Predators
Mikael Granlund, Nashville Predators (Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports) /

As the trade deadline approaches and rumors heat up, two names are the most prominent when it comes to the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

Despite a rough stretch, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been among the best teams in the NHL this season. As the trade deadline approaches, the team is in the market to buy. Two players that have have been strongly linked to the team are forward Mikael Granlund and defenseman Mattias Ekholm.

Both players are currently with the Nashville Predators. General manager Kyle Dubas would likely want to bolster the team’s forwards and defensemen, but I highly doubt both will happen. With that in mind, should Dubas trade for Ekholm or Granlund?

Toronto has a phenomenal group of forwards. That doesn’t mean that they can’t get better. The group can create chances and score goals, but why not add a two-way presence?

Mikael Granlund is an attractive two-way forward that Dubas has been eyeing for some time now. He is not the same offensive player in Nashville as he was in Minnesota. That might not be much of a concern for Dubas, though.

The Finnish forward averaged north of 0.5 points per game in all but his rookie season with the Wild. In all three seasons with the Preds, including this season, Granlund averages fewer than 0.5 points per game. (stats

The Predators have notoriously failed to produce offense. Stars such as Matt Duchene, Ryan Johansson, and Kyle Turris were impact players before they arrived in Tennessee. It appears the organization has wasted offensive talent to favor their longtime favored defensive style.

Health has been a cause for concern regarding the forward. Of his ten seasons in the NHL, he stayed healthy once. So far this season, the forward missed four games due to Covid-19 protocols and a groin injury.

He has a current cap hit of $3.75 million, but that can drop to $1.875 million if the Predators retain half his contract. That contract expires this offseason, meaning Dubas will not need to protect him for the upcoming expansion draft.

The winger would play in the top nine, with hopes of connecting on one of the top two lines. It would give either line a winger that is responsible defensively with a scoring touch.

To acquire Granlund, Dubas will need to dive into his deep pocket of prospects. Depending on how the market is going for the Finnish forward, Dubas might be able to hold onto Toronto’s top youngsters.

There’s no doubt that Mikael Granlund would give the Toronto Maple Leafs a boost upfront. If the team wants some physicality, it may look to someone else.