Mattias Ekholm had plenty of reasons to be frustrated when speaking with media at his season-ending media availability on Tuesday afternoon.
The 33-year-old trade deadline acquisition took to the podium with a nasty black eye due to a high-stick late in Game 6 versus the Vegas Golden Knights. That, paired with the Oilers’ elimination, had to have had him feeling somewhat sour, but he made it clear he is super grateful to be a part of his new organization.
“Obviously when you get traded, you don’t know where, it’s not in your control, but I wouldn’t change this to go to any other team in the league. I stand behind that 100%,” Ekholm said. “Everybody on this team just bleeds to win, and that’s something that’s really awesome to be a part of, especially at this point of my career.”
Ekholm was part of a Nashville Predators’ roster in 2017 that reached the Stanley Cup Final but fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Based on his comments, it seems the fire to win it all is still of the utmost importance to him.
“To be able to come to a team that lost in the second round and nobody feels good about anything the way that happened. Everybody expects to win, everybody thinks we should win,” said Ekholm. “We have a team here that is capable of doing it.”
Ekholm was acquired by the Oilers prior to the trade deadline in a blockbuster move that saw Tyson Barrie, prospect Reid Schaefer and two draft picks head the other way. He fit in seamlessly with his new team and gave them a steady, reliable defensive presence that their blue line had been lacking for some time.
Thanks to a four-year, $25 million extension signed with the Predators in October of 2021, Ekholm has three more seasons remaining on his deal that carries a cap hit of $6.25 million. He figures to continue to be a massive part of this Oilers’ team moving forward.
"We had a really really good team this year."
Zach Hyman & Mattias Ekholm speak with the media to close out the season.@Enterprise | #LetsGoOilers
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) May 16, 2023
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