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AP photo by Karl B DeBlaker / The Carolina Hurricanes' Jesperi Kotkaniemi, left, collides with the Nashville Predators' Mattias Ekholm during an NHL preseason game on Oct. 5 in Raleigh, N.C.

NASHVILLE — The Nashville Predators have signed defenseman Mattias Ekholm to a four-year, $25 million extension that will keep him under contract with the team through the 2025-26 season.

The Predators announced the contract Wednesday at a news conference.

General manager David Poile called Ekholm a foundational piece for the Predators and said they couldn't be happier to get this deal done before the season opener Thursday night against the Seattle Kraken, the NHL expansion club that lost 4-3 to the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday as a new season began.

Poile said Ekholm, at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, brings size to the blue line along with being a mentor.

"We have a group of young, right-shot defensemen that includes Alexandre Carrier, Philippe Myers, Dante Fabbro and Matt Benning who all have the opportunity to learn from and play with Mattias on the side opposite him, and we're excited about the stability that will provide us on the blue line," Poile said.

The deal starts with the 2022-23 season and has an annual average value of $6.25 million for Ekholm, 31, who has played all eight of his NHL seasons in Nashville.

"Nashville is home for us," said Ekholm, a native of Borlänge, Sweden, who helped his country win a world championship in 2018. "It's where we want to be. I believe in the future of this team, and I'm looking forward to the chance at competing for the Stanley Cup here in the next five seasons."

He was the 102nd pick overall in the fourth round of the 2009 draft and made his NHL debut during the 2011-12 season. Ekholm has at least 20 points six straight seasons, and his 23 points last season ranked second among Nashville defensemen.

Ekholm has two winning goals and had the first multigoal game of his career in February. He finished 10th in Norris Trophy voting for the 2018-19 season.

He has appeared in 71 playoff games, tied for third among skaters in franchise history, and his plus-14 rating in the postseason is the best in Nashville history.

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