With all the pomp and circumstance surrounding pending free-agent defensemen Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators and Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings, Arizona Coyotes blue liner Oliver Ekman-Larsson has somehow, someway managed to fly completely under the radar. Well… expect that to come to and end this offseason, especially if both Karlsson and Doughty end up signing extensions with their current club.
Like his other two blue line brethren, Ekman-Larsson is slated to become an unrestricted free-agent for the first time in his career on July 1st, 2019 once his six year, $33 million contract expires. The 26 year old defenseman has provided the Coyotes with an absolute bargain of a deal the past few seasons, earning just $5.5 million against the NHL’s salary cap. Not bad for a mid-twenties aged defenseman who always seems to be in the Norris Trophy discussion as the league’s top defenseman. Of course, there’s always the chance that the man affectionately known as OEL could sign an extension with the Coyotes, thereby extending his stay in the desert. But many hockey insiders and analysts seem to feel that he’ll test the market to at least review his options. But… not so fast, says the man himself.
AZSports.com’s Craig Morgan recently caught up with OEL and managed to get the quiet Swede to open up about his future plans.
For those not able to view Twitter messages, here was his response:
“I would like to figure something out. I’ve said it so many times. This is where I want to be.”
We assume that by “figure something out”, Ekman-Larsson means that he’d like to sign a contract extension with the team. He also went on to confirm that he’ll play for Team Sweden in the upcoming 2018 International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Championships in Denmark next month.
As for his future with the Coyotes, we know that he’ll at least be back for next season. Beyond that… who knows? While there’s certainly an appetite from both sides to get a new deal done, until pen hits paper expect the rumors and speculation about the dynamic blue liner to continue.
In 576 career NHL games, all with the Coyotes franchise, the former 6th overall pick has 102 goals and 290 points.