According to a report from Arizona Sports reporter and Arizona Coyotes insider Craig Morgan, the team and star defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson are negotiating a massive eight-year contract extension worth over $64 million.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie, hockey’s most trusted insider, confirmed Morgan’s report and even verified that the annual average value of the new deal is expected to be $8.25 million. If Ekman-Larsson declines the offer, it’s expected that Coyotes general manager John Chayka will then review his trade options. In other words, this is a “take it or leave it” offer.
The 26 year old Ekman-Larsson has one year remaining on a six year, $33 million deal that has paid him $7 million annually over the past five seasons. While he still has a year left on his current deal, he’s eligible to sign a contract extension on July 1st. The 6’2”, 200 pound blue liner struggled a bit in 2017-18, but he did manage to put up yet another 40+ point season with 14 goals, 28 assists and 42 points in 82 games. The former 6th overall pick suffered through injuries and the loss of his Mother this past season, which many Coyotes insiders feel hampered his ability to perform. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if he got back to being a 50+ point defenseman and a defensive rock for the Coyotes next season and beyond.
The Coyotes are in a precarious position with Ekman-Larsson this offseason, but evidently they’re prepared to play hard ball with their top blue liner. There’s no doubt that $8.25 million is a LOT of money, but it doesn’t represent the big pay day raise that most people thought would be awaiting Ekman-Larsson. Some media personalities have suggested that he could generate as much as $9 million per season on the open free-agent market. Should Ekman-Larsson elect to turn down Arizona’s decision and test the open market, it’s expected that there will be no shortage of interested suitors. Ekman-Larsson is a legitimate, top pairing defenseman with the ability to log huge minutes and play in any situation. In short, he’s a stud and all 31 NHL teams would LOVE to have him.
Still, GM Chayka has long denied any trade rumor coming out of Arizona with Ekman-Larsson's name attached to it. “I’ve been on the record numerous times about the subject and have been very clear,” Chayka said heading into the 2018 NHL Trade Deadline. “I haven’t had a single conversation about Oliver that has lasted more than five seconds.”