Preds Prospect Update: April 4

Wednesday, 04.04.2012 / 7:46 PM / Features
Nashville Predators
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.”

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WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
S. Weber 79 23 33 -2 56
P. Hornqvist 76 22 31 1 53
C. Smith 79 24 28 16 52
M. Fisher 75 20 29 -4 49
R. Josi 72 13 27 -2 40
M. Cullen 77 10 29 4 39
C. Wilson 81 11 22 -1 33
N. Spaling 71 13 19 2 32
R. Ellis 80 6 21 9 27
G. Bourque 74 9 17 -5 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Hutton 20 11 4 .910 2.62
D. Dubnyk 11 18 3 .891 3.43

 
 

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