With their NHL season coming to an end, a pair of Nashville Predators defenseman are set to represent their countries in the quest for a World Championship title.
Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm will join Canada and Sweden, respectively, in the ongoing 2016 IIHF World Championship in Russia, before they embark on their summer breaks. Ellis will represent Canada in a World Championship for the second time, while Ekholm will skate for Tre Kronor for the third consecutive season in the Worlds.
“It’s still disappointing with the way we finished, but I felt like I had a good push at the end and a good finish; I feel like I’m in good shape, I’m healthy, and I’m still motivated to go,” Ekholm said. “I’m going to go and try to help [Sweden] out.”
Ellis led Canadian defensemen in points in the 2014 tournament with five (1g-4a). Ekholm helped Sweden to a bronze medal in 2014, and was named one of the nation’s three best players in the process.
Ellis and Ekholm, who have become a reliable duo on the Preds blue line, each had career years in 2015-16. Ellis posted career highs in goals (10), assists (22) and points (32), while skating in 79 games. Ekholm, who signed a six-year contract with Nashville last October, also recorded career highs in goals (8), assists (27) and points (35), while playing in all 82 games for the first time.
Ekholm tallied three goals and four assists in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs; Ellis added six assists in the postseason.