PHT Morning Skate: Ekholm is a bargain; Laine’s struggles

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm is one of the bigger bargains in the NHL. (The Hockey News)

• There’s a bigger hockey fan base in Alabama than you might realize. (ESPN)

• New team, same Barry Trotz. The Islanders head coach might just be the front-runner for the Jack Adams Award at the midway point of the season. (NHL.com)

• It’s only a matter of time before the New York Rangers will have to make some big decisions regarding veteran players. (New York Post)

• Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella believes Martin St. Louis would be an excellent coach. (Tampa Times)

• The Toronto Maple Leafs don’t have to rush Freddie Andersen back into the lineup because they’ve put themselves in a good position. (Toronto Star)

P.K. Subban reached out to a young Detroit-area hockey player who’s been battling racism at the rink. (Detroit News)

Patrik Laine was incredible in the month of November, but his season has been a disappointment for the most part. (Winnipeg Free Press)

Devante Smith-Pelly is willing to pay to see a fan get a tattoo of Brett Connolly getting a tattoo. You can’t make this stuff up. (Russian Machine Never Breaks)

• It sounds like Alex Steen will miss the rest of the month because of a left shoulder injury. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.