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Preds Prospect Update: April 4

Wednesday, 04.4.2012 / 6:46 PM CT / Features
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Preds Prospect Update: April 4
Predators defensive prospect Mattias Ekholm continues to have a great post-season in the Swedish Elite League (Elitserien) as his Brynas team defeated Farjestads 4-1 in the semifinals. Brynas will face the winner of the Skelleftea AIK and AIK Stockholm series in the finals. Ekholm added an assist in the series clinching game against Farjestads and has six points (1g, 5a) in 11 playoff games—ranking him second among defensemen.

“He’s really got confidence in his skating ability and the way he that he was setting up his plays in the offensive zone,” Predators assistant general manager Paul Fenton said. “He’s improved his defensive posture and his defending ability. So he’s really heading in the right direction.”

That’s good news for the Predators, considering Ekholm started this season in Nashville but was having trouble adjusting to the North American game and ultimately returned to Sweden in October.

“When the kid has half-aspirations of being here and half-aspirations of being still in this league that he came from—if you’re not 100 percent committed it’s very hard to get the true guy,” Fenton said. “I’m looking forward to him coming over next year knowing that he’s staying. Whether he’s staying in Nashville or Milwaukee, it’s going to be a great experience for him to come in and be able to stay here and not know that he has a safety net, if you will, going back.”

Ekholm, who was named Elitserien rookie of the year in 2010-11, picked up the Borje Salming Award this season as the league’s best defenseman.

“I think it’s just recognition of the talent that he has and being able to apply it on the ice night in and night out over there,” Fenton said. “That’s a very good league. There’s no question, it’s a very good league. And for him to be able to be the best defensemen … it’s a great award for him.”

Fenton added that he believes Ekholm will make the Swedish national team that will compete in the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships, May 4-20 in Sweden and Finland.

More From Overseas:
Happy Birthday to Magnus Hellberg. Nashville's first pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Hellberg is celebrating his 21st birthday today (April 4). Hellberg has spent the majority of his season in the Swedish Elite League, appearing in 17 games with Frolunda as the team's No. 2 goaltender. He is currently playing in the post-season on loan to Orebro in Sweden's second league.

Congrats:
Preds 2008 First Round pick Chet Pickard dressed for his first career NHL game last night, serving as the back-up goaltender for starter Anders Lindback. After the game Pickard tweeted out, "That was a dream come true tonight! #bigwin." While Pekka Rinne returned to practice today (missed last night's game due to illness), Pickard is expected to remain with the big club through the playoffs as a third goalie.

Head-To-Head:
Josh Shalla (left wing, Saginaw) and Austin Watson (right wing, London) will face off in the second round of the Ontario Hockey League playoffs. Shalla has 8 points (3g, 5a in 6 playoff games) while Watson tallied 1 goal and 1 assist in his club’s first round sweep of Windsor. “Should be a great series,” Fenton said. “I think Saginaw, from what I know about them, has a really talented offensive team. Big and strong. And London is geared up again to make a run for the Memorial Cup. So the two of them should be having a great battle." As for the two prospects: “I think they’re both playing very well. We’ve got a couple reports on Shalla and he continues to be in a real positive light.”

SMASHVILLE CENTRAL

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WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 51 24 7 228 221 109
2 y - STL 82 51 24 7 239 197 109
3 x - NSH 82 47 25 10 226 202 104
4 x - CHI 82 48 28 6 220 186 102
5 x - VAN 82 48 29 5 236 220 101
6 x - MIN 82 46 28 8 227 198 100
7 x - WPG 82 43 26 13 223 204 99
8 x - CGY 82 45 30 7 237 213 97
9 LAK 82 40 27 15 218 197 95
10 DAL 82 41 31 10 257 257 92
11 COL 82 39 31 12 209 223 90
12 SJS 82 40 33 9 224 226 89
13 EDM 82 24 44 14 193 276 62
14 ARI 82 24 50 8 165 267 56

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
F. Forsberg 82 26 37 15 63
M. Ribeiro 82 15 47 11 62
R. Josi 81 15 40 15 55
S. Weber 78 15 30 15 45
C. Smith 82 23 21 11 44
C. Wilson 77 20 22 19 42
M. Fisher 59 19 20 4 39
J. Neal 67 23 14 12 37
R. Ellis 58 9 18 8 27
S. Jones 82 8 19 3 27
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 41 17 6 .923 2.18
C. Hutton 6 7 4 .902 2.61