Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm on Wednesday agreed to a four-year contract extension with an average annual value of $ 6.25 million.

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Ekholm, 31, could have become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He will receive $ 3.75 million this season, he who signed for six years and $ 22.5 million in October 2015.

“I like this part of my job. I remember Mattias when he got here and we had been to dinner across the street. [Il était] a young man, new to North America and with a lot of room to improve on and off the ice, and here is where he is today, ”General Manager David Poile told a press conference.

According to the Swede, contract negotiations were tough and he was especially concerned that they would become a distraction during the season. Ekholm, who is the father of two, had no desire to move his family away from Tennessee.

“It’s good that we were successful … because even if we didn’t talk about it or my attention wasn’t on it, it would still have been in the back of my mind.” It’s a relief, that’s for sure, and we’re very excited, ”he said.

Unpleasant rumors

The Predators’ face on the blue line has changed quite a bit over the past few seasons. Ekholm’s name has appeared among the rumors more than once.

“Obviously, it’s hard to see your name in those kinds of conversations when you have a family,” he said. It’s one thing for me. I can pick up my things and leave whenever I want. It would have been hard to leave this city where I have played for a long time, but to have even more roots here, it would have been difficult to live. “

He at least always felt comfortable discussing it with the Preds staff.

“It’s something that I really like about this organization. They have always been very open and honest with me. I feel like I can go to the office [de David Poile] and that it wouldn’t be daring to ask these tough questions. […] It made me more comfortable last year, with all the rumors, ”admitted Ekholm.

In the last campaign, the veteran registered six goals and 17 assists for 23 points in 48 games, while maintaining a rating of +19. In his career in the National League, he amassed 219 points, including 51 goals, in 586 games of the regular calendar.