Sitting at the top of Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile’s to-do list is working out contract extensions for forward Filip Forsberg and defenseman Mattias Ekholm.
But if you read the tea leaves, one seems like a forgone conclusion and the other appears to be anything but a sure thing.
Speaking with reporters during training camp on Tuesday, Forsberg voiced that he’s in no hurry to sign an extension with Nashville and insinuated that it doesn’t bother him to play out the final year of his current contract without having an extension in place.
Ekholm, on the other hand, appears to be singing a different tune.
"I want to be here; I want to stay here," Ekholm said on Wednesday. "That's the business of it. My agent is dealing with that with David (Poile) and hopefully we can get something done because me and my family really enjoy it here."
The 31-year-old defenseman, who’s in the final year of the six-year contract he signed in 2016 at a bargain price of $3.75 million per season, is due for a substantial raise and he’s willing to be patient through negotiations with Poile.
But with the Predators scheduled to open the Season on Oct. 14 against the Seattle Kraken at Bridgestone Arena, the hourglass is running out of sand, and that’s not lost on Ekholm.
"I'd rather have it done yesterday," Ekholm said. "That's not how it really turned out. This is a new experience for me. I'm just trying to stay focused on what I can control. I know when the season comes around, I'm going to have to be 100 percent focused on that, otherwise my game will suffer. I'm not really sure (of a timetable), but that's where my head's at."
The Predators will likely offer Ekholm a similar extension to the six-year, $37.5 million one Ryan Ellis signed in 2018. However, Ellis gave the Predators a hometown discount in that deal, and it doesn’t seem likely Ekholm will afford Poile the same luxury after Ellis was traded just two years into that deal.
A more realistic contract for Ekholm could resemble the seven-year, $42.5 million deal Ryan McDonagh signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2018 that carries a $6.75 million average annual value.
Ekholm, who was the focal point of trade rumors in early March when the Predators had one of the worst records in the NHL, admitted that’s just part of the business and chalked it up to being just that: rumors.
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_