The Arizona Coyotes may be up against the cap, but they have identified their bottom-six as a need area and have addressed it. After signing Tyler Pitlick and John Hayden yesterday, the team is working on adding another capable forward. Craig Morgan of AZ Coyotes Insider reports that Arizona is finalizing a two-year contract with Johan Larsson. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman adds that the deal carries an AAV of $1.4MM.
Larsson, 28, has quietly been a consistent contributor for the Buffalo Sabres over the past six years, culminating in a career year this past season. In five of the past six seasons, Larsson has recorded at least six goals and 14 points. Yet, his games played have been all over the map. In 2017-18, he played a career-high 80 games and posted 17 points. The year prior, he played in just 36 games and still notched 11 points. This season, he recorded a career-high 18 points in just 62 games, as well as career-best in possession numbers. At his best, Larsson appears to have 30+ point upside, but can at least be counted on to finish with around 20 points if he plays a full season.
Larsson’s offense is just a small part of his game though. The two-way center is capable at the face-off dot, plays a physical game, and is skilled at creating turnovers and winning puck battles. At under six feet and 200 lbs., Larsson is not the biggest player, but makes his presence felt on the forecheck and defending his own zone. In the Coyotes system, Larsson has a chance to excel given his defensive focus and could find that with more ice time and responsibility, his offense also picks up as well.