The Arizona Coyotes will be without their star defenceman, following a gnarly hit in Saturday’s game against the San Jose Sharks. Oliver Ekman-Larsson was hit from an awkward angle by Evander Kane. This sent Ekman-Larsson’s leg into the board at a weird angle, likely the root of the injury. No timetable has been announced but early reports paint the injury in a pessimistic tone.
Per Coach Tocchet, Captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson is day-to-day with a lower-body injury following yesterday’s game.
He will not be making the trip to Las Vegas.
— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) January 17, 2021
Oliver Ekman-Larsson Day-to-Day
OEL has been a key piece in the Coyotes early success this season. He has three assists through the team’s first two games. He’s also attempted seven shots, four hitting the net. It’s been likable production from the defenceman that was a key part of trade rumours only months ago. He’s again served alongside Jason Demers, a partner he spent over 675 minutes with last season. The two make up the team’s second defensive pairing, behind Jakob Chychrun and Alex Goligoski.
This lesser role makes OEL’s shoes slightly easier to fill. The Coyotes have had Kyle Capobianco as a healthy scratch for both games so far. They also have Jordan Gross and star prospect Victor Soderstrom on their Taxi Squad. While Capobianco is likely to step up in the absence, a long-term injury could open the door to Soderstrom’s NHL debut. The 19-year-old defenceman has been a standout since the team drafted him in the First Round of the 2019 NHL Draft. He has yet to make his NHL debut but has performed admirably in Europe. This included being a pivotal member of the Sweden blue-line in the 2021 World Juniors, where Soderstrom tallied five assists in five games. He also managed six points in 12 games this season in Sweden’s minor leagues.
Both Soderstrom and Gross are right-handed shots, which could boost their likeliness to see game time. Currently, the only right-handed shot in the Coyotes top-four is Jason Demers. Filling the large shoes left by OEL will likely be a fluid situation, though. Their first game without the captain will come on Monday, January 18th.