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Forsberg, Ekholm extensions priority for Predators, GM says

Poile also wants to discuss contract with pending free agent Granlund

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

Filip Forsberg and Mattias Ekholm each could have his contract extended, Nashville Predators general manager David Poile said Tuesday.

Poile told 102.5 The Game that he would like to get Forsberg, a forward, and Ekholm, a defenseman, signed before next season. Each can become an unrestricted free agent after that season.

Poile also said he would like to discuss a new contract with Mikeal Granlund, who was the subject of trade rumors before the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline passed Monday. The forward can become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.

Forsberg missed a 10th game with an upper-body injury when the Predators defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-2 at home Tuesday. The 26-year-old, who has one season remaining on a six-year, $36 million contract ($6 million average annual value), has scored 29 points (11 goals, 18 assists) in 34 games this season.

"We should sit down and see what he thinks about his future here and see if there's an opportunity to extend him," Poile said. "He'd be a very tough player to replace. I think he's just coming into his prime. These are his best years, and I still see the day when Filip is not just going to just score 30 goals, but he's going to score 40 goals. So I would certainly like to have Filip be part of this future with the Predators."

Ekholm was seen as a trade chip earlier in the season when the Predators were struggling. But now that they are back in the Stanley Cup Playoff race, Poile has repeatedly said he has no interest in trading the 30-year-old, who has one season remaining on a six-year, $22.5 million contract ($3.75 average annual value). Ekholm had scored 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) in 37 games this season.

"When I sit down with [Ekholm] in his exit meeting," Poile said, "[it] will be to discuss his future, where is he at, how does he view our team, how does he view his game, where is he going, does he want to be part of this in the future, because he enters the last year of his contract. That could go any way you want with this. It could lead to him playing out the year. It could lead to an extension, it could lead to all the rumors again about him being traded. I'm pretty sure I've never said a negative word about Mattias Ekholm in terms of his play or not ever wanting him to play for the Predators. We have to see what happens."

Poile also said he had no desire to trade Granlund before the deadline, despite the forward being a pending free agent. He said he believes Granlund has been a big reason Nashville is in playoff position. The Predators (24-19-1), who are 13-3-0 since March 15, are fourth in the eight-team Discover Central Division, four points ahead of the fifth-place Chicago Blackhawks. The top four teams will qualify for the playoffs.

Granlund scored Tuesday, giving him 18 points (11 goals, seven assists) in 40 games this season. The 29-year-old signed a one-year, $3.75 million contract Dec. 23.

"Certainly a lot of teams would have liked to get Mikael Granlund for their playoff opportunities," Poile said. "But I think he's helping what's turned our team around, our chemistry, our belief, our identity. When the season is over, I'm actually going to go to him and see whether he wants to stay here and sign here to play with the Predators versus being an unrestricted free agent. It may happen, it may not happen, but I think he's that important, and it didn't make any sense at this time to trade him."

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