Though he was listed as day-to-day over the weekend, the recovery timeline for Arizona Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson appears to have changed. The team confirmed to Jose M. Romero of AZ Central that the captain will be out for three to four weeks with a lower-body injury. Kyle Capobianco is expected to be inserted into the lineup in his place.
Ekman-Larsson, 29, was embroiled in trade rumors over the offseason that included him willing to waive his no-trade clause to go to Vancouver or Boston, but after nothing came of it he focused on the season and the Coyotes. In Saturday’s game he had three assists before exiting in the third period following a hit from San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane, ending what was a brilliant start to his season. Missing the next several weeks in such a condensed schedule means he’ll be out for a good chunk of games.
In fact, four weeks would mean he could miss 14 games, a quarter of the 56-game schedule. That’s a huge blow for an Arizona team that is competing for the playoffs in a lopsided West division. While many expect the Vegas Golden Knights, Colorado Avalanche, and St. Louis Blues to easily make the playoffs, that fourth spot is certainly up for the taking and the Coyotes are off to a nice start with three points in their first two games. In Ekman-Larsson’s absence, they’ll need a huge effort from some of their other veteran defenders to pick up the slack.