There’s no denying that Oliver Ekman-Larsson belongs in the crop of elite defensemen in the NHL. Though his current place of employment with the Arizona Coyotes often makes him an afterthought.
The two-time All-Star has developed into a lethal two-way defenseman, recording 40 or more points in four of his last five seasons while finishing in the top 20 of the league’s Norris Trophy voting on four separate occasions. The problem is, he’s stranded on one of the worst teams in the league as his minus-73 career rating suggests.
With his contract expiring after the 2018-19 season, there were rumblings this winter about the Coyotes possibly dealing the 26-year-old considering they’ve made the playoffs just twice during Ekman-Larsson’s eight professional seasons.
In fact, Arizona hasn’t made the postseason since 2012 and have eclipsed the 80-point mark just once during that six-year span. This season was the second-straight time the Coyotes finished with 70 points, worst in the Western Conference and third worst in the entire league.
So it would be understandable why the Coyotes might be inclined to move Ekman-Larsson, especially if they had the notion that he would walk in free agency next summer. A trade would at least ensure draft picks or prospects to help what has become an extended rebuild.
That doesn’t seem to be the case though, which is bad news for teams like the New York Islanders and Rangers, who are in need of help on the blue line.
According to Craig Morgan of ArizonaSports.com, the Coyotes are discussing an eight-year contract extension with Ekman-Larsson, which is one more year than any other team could offer, per NHL rules.
That’s good news for Ekman-Larsson, who has made it known that he wants to stay in Arizona for the long haul. This extension will do just that.