Mattias Ekholm signed a four-year, $25 million contract with the Nashville Predators on Wednesday. It has an average annual value of $6.25 million and begins next season.
The 31-year-old defenseman is in the final season of a six-year, $22.5 million contract (average annual value $3.75 million) he signed Oct. 26, 2015. He could have become an unrestricted free agent after this season.
“Staying with this organization and in this city was a priority for me and my family, and I’m so excited to be able to sign this contract,” Ekholm said. “Nashville is home for us — it’s where we want to be. I believe in the future of this team and I’m looking forward to the chance at competing for the Stanley Cup here in the next five seasons.”
Ekholm scored 23 points (six goals, 17 assists) and averaged 22:52 of ice time in 48 regular-season games and had three assists and averaged 26:27 of ice time in six Stanley Cup Playoff games.
“When you think about foundational pieces on our hockey team, Mattias Ekholm is certainly at the top of the list, and we couldn’t be happier to get this deal done with the start of the regular season upon us,” Nashville general manager David Poile said. “An alternate captain who leads both vocally and by example, Mattias brings stability and size (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) to our defense corps and has embraced serving as a mentor to the younger players on our team.
“We have a group of young, right-shot defensemen that includes Alexandre Carrier, Philippe Myers, Dante Fabbro and Matt Benning who all have the opportunity to learn from and play with Mattias on the side opposite him, and we’re excited about the stability that will provide us on the blue line.”
Selected by Nashville in the fourth round (No. 102) of the 2009 NHL Draft, Ekholm has scored 219 points (51 goals, 168 assists) in 586 regular-season games and 33 points (six goals, 27 assists) in 71 playoff games.
Among defensemen, Ekholm ranks second in Predators history in plus-minus (plus-90), fourth in games played, fifth in goals and sixth in points and assists.
Poile said during the offseason that two of his priorities were signing Ekholm and forward Filip Forsberg, who also is in the last season of his contract and can become an unrestricted free agent after the season.
Nashville opens its season at home against the Seattle Kraken on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NHLN, BSSO, ROOT-NW, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).