With the complexities of a trade involving Arizona Coyotes’ Oliver Ekman-Larsson increasing between the two teams the defenseman put on his short list, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Saturday evening on Sportsnet’s Hockey Central that Arizona went back to their captain and asked him to expand his list of teams. His response was ’No.’
“Ekman-Larsson is only willing to stay at Boston or Vancouver, so that’s how Arizona has to proceed if it wants to get this done,” said Friedman.
Friedman also notes that Arizona Coyotes’ new general manager Bill Armstrong was with the St. Louis Blues when they acquired center Ryan O’Reilly from Buffalo in which there was some money exchanged as Buffalo had to take back Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Sobotka. However, essentially, the team got a prospect, a first-round pick and a second-round pick as the key to that deal. That is what the Armstrong is looking for in an Ekman-Larsson deal.
“Berglund and Sobotka were part of that deal, but it was Tage Thompson, a first and a second and that’s what he would like to do, I think, if he can,” said Friedman. “I believe that the Coyotes like the prospects in Boston better than they like the prospects in Vancouver. But I think that at this point in time, Vancouver might be the team that’s more eager to get the deal done than Boston in terms of the want.”
While that might be a case, getting a deal done won’t be easy. The Canucks have plenty of cap issues to deal with that that’s without factoring in Ekman-Larsson’s $8.25MM AAV for the next seven years, which they have to factor in. The team still has three key unrestricted free agents to deal with, including Tyler Toffoli, Jacob Markstrom and Chris Tanev, and little cap room to accommodate all three, plus a number of restricted free agents, including Jake Virtanen. The Canucks also have to consider soon-to-be RFA’s Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes to long-term deals next year, as well as the fact that they are still paying $3.04MM for the next two years on the recapture penalty from Roberto Luongo. The Canucks also lack some of the necessary draft capital with no first or second-rounder to deal in the upcoming draft on Tuesday and Wednesday. The team may also be hesitant to move future picks.
Regardless, the team would still be interested in bringing in Ekman-Larsson, who along with Hughes, would give the team a solid No. 1 and No. 2 defenseman on the left side for the next seven years. The team has little depth on their defense after the 2020-21 season. The team has Tyler Myers locked up at $6MM until 2023-24, but veterans Alexander Edler and Jordie Benn will both be unrestricted free agents in one year.
While Boston was considered the frontrunners only a few days before, Friedman reports that the Bruins may not be ready to make a strong offer as the team can just bring back UFA Torey Krug as a less costly option rather than trade prospects and picks to get Ekman-Larsson.