The National Hockey League side Nashville Predators will keep  Mattias Ekholm in their roster as they have signed the defenseman on a four-year, $25 million extension that will see him through the 2025-26 season.

The Predators announced the contract on Wednesday at a news conference, according to the Associated Press.

General manager David Poile said that the club is very happy about the deal. He went on to call Ekholm a foundational piece for the Predators. Poile said Ekholm brings size at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds to the blue line along with being a mentor.

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“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 Predators play the season opener on Thursday night against the Seattle Kraken.

Ekholm’s 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 NHL seasons in Nashville.

“Nashville is home for us. 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,” said Ekholm.

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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 was second among Nashville defensemen.

Ekholm has two game-winning goals and had the first multi-goal game of his career in February. He finished 10th in Norris Trophy voting for the 2018-19 season. Ekholm said staying in Nashville with the Predators was a priority for him.

He has played in 71 playoff games, tied for third-most among skaters in franchise history. His plus-14 rating in the postseason is the best in Nashville history. Ekholm helped Sweden win the 2018 world championship.

(With AP inputs)