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Mattias Ekholm’s Impact: A Defensive Force for the Oilers

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Mattias Ekholm has had a remarkable impact on the team’s defense. He’s becoming a key player in the Oilers system.

Mattias Ekholm is a force to be reckoned with this season. Since his acquisition in 2022, Ekhom has solidified himself as an elite defender. As well as being an elite defender, he recently found his offensive game elevated. Quickly, Ekholm proved himself to be an indispensable player, someone the Edmonton Oilers rely heavily on. Simply put, Ekholm is a vital component to the Oilers system, a player whose presence instills confidence and calm behavior.

Even more important, Ekholm has not only elevated his own game but he has also found a way to elevate those around him, especially defense partner Evan Bouchard. Since his acquisition, Bouchard’s development as a player has skyrocketed. From being an unsure defender on the ice to being a part of the Norris trophy conversation, it’s clear that Ekholm has had a huge impact.

Mattias Ekholm Oilers practice
Mattias Ekholm, Oilers practice

Furthermore, the Ekholm-Bouchard pairing holds a 60.23 CF% this season. In other words, with Ekholm and Bouchard on the ice, the Edmonton Oilers are outshooting the opposition. Similarly, they have been on the ice for 279 high-danger chances for Edmonton, and only 161 times have they let high-danger chances get past them. That’s the best ratio in the entire NHL.

Mattias Ekholm and His Stoic Demeanor is Key

Ekholm fosters an environment of confidence around the defensive core; that confidence correlates to fewer panic plays being made. Ekholm plays calmly, making quick and confident plays that are keys to the Oilers’ system. Additionally, his stoic demeanor on the ice transfers to everyone else; in emotion-heavy games, his calmness calms those around him, making for a more disciplined team.

Staying calm in an emotion-fueled game is key in the playoffs, as a calm team tends to draw more penalties than they take. Subsequently, this measure of calmness gives one of the best power plays in the league a chance to go to work. The Oilers are not exactly the team you want to give power plays to, but that’s the impact of Ekholm’s stoic demeanor. 

With 13 points in his last ten games, it’s safe to say Ekholm has found his offensive game. In addition, Ekholm is second for the best plus/minus in the league with a +40. Even better, three of the top ten players for the best plus-minus are members of the Edmonton Oilers. As a result, Ekholm is a key player in the playoffs and key to the defensive style of the Oilers. With the playoffs right around the corner, it is only a matter of time before Ekholm’s full impact is understood.

Next: Frustrated Mitch Marner Placed on LTIR by Maple Leafs

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