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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Mattias Ekholm, Nashville Predators
Mattias Ekholm, Nashville Predators (Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports) /

Mattias Ekholm

The Toronto Maple Leafs blue-line is excellent, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved upon.

One of the more reliable defensemen in the NHL, Mattias Ekholm, may be up for grabs. Dubas must be drooling at the opportunity to trade for the Swede.

He is a puck-moving, two-way defenseman that can lay the body. Except for one year (see the chart) he’s pretty solid at both ends of the ice.  It might seem like the Leafs don’t need any more offense, but Ekholm is an elite player who makes any team better.  He is a true #1, and would likely be the Leafs best defenseman.  On the Leafs he would push Justin Holl to the third pairing to replace Zach Bogosian who would then be the team’s seventh defenseman.

Ekholm put up a career-high 44 points in 80 games just two seasons ago. He is close to that pace this season, putting up 14 points in 27 games. That’s on a team that is 26th in the league for goals scored per game.

What makes that stat line look even better is being one of only three starting players on the team with a positive plus-minus. Clearly, he is one of the few gems on the team.

Standing at six feet and four inches tall along with 215 pounds, Ekholm can put an opposing player in their place. While he only averages 1.17 hits per 60 minutes this season, he averaged 1.84 hits per 60 minutes last season.

The conservative style of play is similar to the current Maple Leaf, Jake Muzzin. They use their long stick to disrupt a play but will hit when they need to.

The fourth-round pick carries a cap hit of $3.75 million but can drop to $1.875 million like Granlund with a retained contract. The salary cap should not be an issue.

The main problem is that Mattias’ contract continues through next season. Dubas would need to decide if he will protect the defenceman in the expansion draft or not. That may prevent a trade from being made. Then again, you can always just pay Seattle to not touch your roster, which is another expensive, but rarely mentioned, option.

What would the price be for Mattias Ekholm? It would be a lot.  He’s a number-one defenseman (who rarely get traded), and he’s elite both offensively and defensively.  He is also dirt-cheap and has an extra year on his contract.  If you want to add a level of