The last time we visited this topic, there were lots of rumours about the Arizona Coyotes possibly trading Oliver Ekman-Larsson. With his no-movement clause in his contract, it never came to fruition.
It’s Time for the Arizona Coyotes To Move Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Let’s face it, the team must have had reasons to even consider trading their captain and 2009 sixth overall selection. His game has been steadily declining, and he is noticeably missing defensive assignments. During the 2015-16 season OEL had 21 goals and 34 assists for 55 points. His 0.73 points-per-game average was and still is his best performance in a Coyotes’ uniform. But, then the very next season he hit rock bottom with a 32.9 percent drop in production. His 0.49 points per game were his lowest yet for a full season. He did have only 0.45 points per game last season but only played in 66 games due to the pandemic shortened season.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson will hit the grand age of 30 in mid-July. He is not old for a hockey player, so what is going on with his lack of performance? It almost seems that he is disinterested in playing here in the desert. For the captain of his team, he seems too docile and can’t rally his team to wins. If a smaller player gets mugged as has been the case with Conor Garland on numerous occasions, where is the captain to intercede? To set that opposing player on his butt and bring the message that you don’t do that to his teammate.
It may be something you will remember that the former captain Shane Doan would never condone. Not now… it seems other teams are aware of the Coyotes’ lack of defending themselves against such actions.
That No Movement Clause Comes Back To Haunt You
We all are aware that OEL has a no-trade clause in his contract, and even though he didn’t completely exercise it when the rumours hit earlier, he did control his destiny. He limited the focus to just two teams that he would accept any trade to, and in reality, it never happened. The chances were slim due to the limit of just two teams he agreed upon. While having that in his contract is a feather in his helmet, it also controls the destiny of the Coyotes with his decline in performance.
Three Landing Spots for OEL
Now, while there are no confirmed rumours of OEL being moved at this time, there are still 29 days until the trade deadline on April 12th. When one considers the status of the Coyotes who will be without their star goalie Darcy Kuemper well up to the deadline date, anything can happen. And don’t think that general manager Bill Armstrong isn’t aware that the team needs to play better before the deadline.
RE: trade deadline, Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong tells @radiojody: “This month really will give us a good indication of where we’re at.
“I think we have a favorable month of April (schedule), but we’ve got to find a way to make it thru the month of March & still be in the hunt.”
— Craig Morgan (@CraigSMorgan) March 15, 2021
Unfortunately, so far in March, the Coyotes are not in the hunt. They’re spinning their wheels (as if on ice) with just a 3-3-1 record. This while other teams are passing them and getting closer to potential playoff spots. The Vegas Golden Knights are 8-2 over their last 10 contests. The Minnesota Wild are 7-2-1, the Colorado Avalanche are also 7-2-1. Even the slumping St. Louis Blues are 4-3-3. The Coyotes are just 4-5-1. Since Kuemper went down, the team is 1-2-1, or only gathering three points out of a possible eight.
Vancouver Canucks Could Still Go After OEL
While a deal wasn’t completed with the Vancouver Canucks, there seemed to be mutual interest… they just couldn’t work out the details. The Canucks didn’t want to give up Thatcher Demko and at the time Kuemper was still in trade rumours. Things have changed since then with the Canucks doing a dive-bomb which they just recently recovered from… for now. They have gone 5-4-1 lately but have played 31 games to other teams ahead of them holding three or four games in hand. Whether they have righted the ship or not, they could still be interested in OEL until the right conditions.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson of course has that humungous $8.25 million contract until 2026-27. The good news is he is only owed $4 million of his 2020-21 contract since he was already paid his $4 million bonus this summer. You know the one that was late being paid… among others. The bad news is he will be owed $10.5 million through 2023-24. His contract then deflates to a more manageable $8 million for one season and finalizes with two $5.25 million seasons.
The Canucks have that nasty contract of their own in Loui Eriksson who has an AAV of $6 million through next season. He is only owed $4 million in true salary. Now, Eriksson is not the scoring phenom the Coyotes seek, but hold on. If the Canucks offered up UFA Tanner Pearson who gets $3.75 million then maybe it looks a bit better. The Vancouver club is loaded with talented defencemen and has Olli Juolevi on their taxi squad. Would they include him too? Or even consider throwing in a draft pick, which the Yotes need desperately? To unload over $10 million in cap space, maybe they will.
St. Louis Blues’ Interest in OEL May Be Minimal
Could the Blues be interested in moving Jaden Schwartz, Zach Sanford, and maybe even Vince Dunn to get OEL? The salaries would match if the Yotes were to throw in fourth-liner Christian Fischer to the mix. Both teams have adequate cap space now and next year to handle the contracts of all the players involved. And, don’t forget that Bill Armstrong came from St. Louis and knows the players there very well. Many trades are completed when the two GMs are familiar with each other. That could be a factor, yet this possibility of trading OEL seems remote.
Boston Bruins Still Looking for a D-Man?
The Boston Bruins lost Torey Krug to the Blues and are really hurting on the blueline. They currently have four injured defencemen and even had to claim Jarred Tinordi off waivers from the Nashville Predators. They are hurting so badly that Tinordi played over 22 minutes in a recent game. If any team is in dire need to gain a veteran D-man like Ekman-Larsson, it has to be the Beantown Bruins.
The Coyotes would need to get a defenceman back in any deal and why not Brandon Carlo? He is 24 years old and a right-hand shot… just what the Desert Dogs could use. He makes $2.85 million and is an RFA after this season. Then, couldn’t the Coyotes also use a player who has been in the rumours quite a bit lately in Jake DeBrusk? He is also just 24 and has 64 goals and 62 assists in 221 games. He could be the player who plays with an edge and can fit in really well in Arizona. Add in Sean Kuraly who makes $1.275 million and the salaries are pretty comparable. Boston can score and has the fourth-best defence now, how much can Oliver Ekman-Larsson help to improve upon that?
While two of the three teams mentioned above have all their draft picks, the Blues are missing their second, and fourth picks. The Coyotes need draft picks and if any deal is made, it will surely contain some future selections so GM Bill Armstrong can work some of his drafting expertise before he loses it.
Losing OEL is a two-edged sword and many fans will not approve of it. But, sometimes teams need to do what is necessary to WIN. The Coyotes are no exception and if they fall flat on their faces over the next several weeks, changes will be coming. Including whether to keep the coaching staff.
Keep your seat belts fastened!