Puck Management: Ekholm’s decisions with the puck aren’t flashy, but they’re incredibly efficient. After retrievals, he displays a great feel for where forecheckers are coming from and where his outlets are. On the breakout and the attack, he opts for simple, high-percentage plays instead of needlessly risky ones.
Size: His 6’4”, 215-pound frame comes in handy in all three zones. He can disrupt the opposition with his reach, body them off the puck along the boards and stuff clearances on his pinches. When he’s on, he’s somehow both a calming presence and everywhere at once.
Defense: Ekholm is a strong defender who can play against stiff competition. His length and physicality are tremendous assets in the trenches, as he can foil puck-carriers through his brawn and stick work. His size, active stick and sound positioning allow him to act as a thorn in the side of opponents in any situation. He’s just always in the right place at the right time.
Skating: This one is fairly obvious. Ekholm is a below-average skater. It takes him ages to reach his top speed, and he doesn’t boast the sudden change of direction to shake defenders in solo scenarios. Though he keeps a solid gap, opponents can find success against him by chipping the puck to an area and chasing.
Overaggressive: As the Predators’ system has opened up in recent years, it has encouraged some bad habits. Ekholm has transitioned from a quiet pillar to a looser blueliner who sometimes gets carried away in possession. He’ll storm down the ice and put his club in trouble because he doesn’t have the speed to recover in time.