Mattias Ekholm is a big believer in the Edmonton Oilers.
The freshly acquired blueliner likes the prospects of his new team, particularly when it comes to what they might be able to accomplish in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“I feel like this team can really do damage in the playoffs,” Ekholm told media in a Zoom call Tuesday. “I’m beyond excited to join this group. I know they have a great bunch of leaders already. Just excited to get going.
“Edmonton is one of the top teams in the league, has some top offensive skill on their team if not the best. For me to come in and join, hopefully, I can contribute with my way and my style and the defensive side of things. First and foremost, just super excited to come there.
“I feel like Edmonton’s a great fit. Super excited and happy to get going.”
Eklholm was brought in from the Nashville Predators on Tuesday alongside a sixth-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft, at the expense of Tyson Barrie, prospect Reid Schaefer, a first-round pick in 2023, and a fourth-rounder in 2024.
The Oilers, who made it to the Western Conference Final last season, hold the first wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference with a 32-21-8 record with 72 points and a .590 points percentage.
Ekholm will help that push.
“I’ve been in the playoffs for eight straight years and think we’ve had some decent success,” said Ekholm, who has 75 games of playoff experience over eight postseason trips. “We haven’t came to the ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup, but we came close in ’17.
“I think I have a pretty good sense of what it takes to shut guys down in the playoffs and that’s probably why I’m sitting here today and they acquired me, for the defensive side of the puck. Try to contribute the way I play the game and have been for the last decade in this league.
“Not going to come there and be anything different from what I have been and what I’m trying to accomplish with my game.”
In other words, he’ll handle the defensive side.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound rearguard will leave the offence to the likes of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
“They have one of the greatest talents on the planet,” Ekholm said.
“Leon has been on a different level against us and Connor as well. It’s the two best players in the world, and to be able to be on a team with them is obviously super exciting. I know they have a bunch of other guys that can really put the puck in the net. It’s something super exciting for me.
“Coming in as a defensive defenceman, I know if we can get our defensive side of the game and I’m doing my job, I think we have a great chance of winning hockey games knowing we have those qualities on our team.
“It’s exciting for sure. It’s for sure a lifetime opportunity to get the ultimate prize.”