Veteran defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson is landing on his feet after getting bought out by the Vancouver Canucks earlier this month. Per TSN’s Darren Dreger and CHEK’s Rick Dhaliwal, he’s expected to sign a one-year deal with the Florida Panthers worth $2.25MM.
Ekman-Larsson hadn’t at all lived up to expectations in Vancouver, but the decision to buy him out with four years left on his deal surprised many. It is the largest non-compliance buyout in NHL history, and the Swede will now earn an additional $2.25MM this season on top of the $2.13MM he’s slated to receive in real cash from Vancouver and $290K from Arizona. It’s still less money than the $10.5MM base salary he was owed from his previous contract in 2023-24.
For the Panthers, this signing represents a low-risk, medium-reward move. Ekman-Larsson is a former All-Star and Olympic medalist, but he’s been wildly inconsistent in the past few seasons and has played long stretches of being a defensive liability in both Vancouver and Arizona, where he was a captain for three seasons between 2018 and 2021.
Now 31, Ekman-Larsson could slot into Florida’s top four to start the season and maybe longer. For now, he serves as a direct replacement on the left side for veteran Marc Staal, who’s on the UFA market. He does find himself with the best opportunity to win in quite a while, joining a Panthers team fresh off a miracle run to the Stanley Cup Final.
From a financial standpoint, the one-year, $2.25MM deal is a decent bit of work for the Panthers. It provides them with a cost-effective option to bolster their defensive depth without committing to a long-term contract – something they’d reportedly prioritized achieving.
Last season, Ekman-Larsson logged two goals and 22 points in 54 games with the Canucks, averaging just over 20 minutes per game. He’ll likely see a reduction in those minutes as the season progresses for Florida and they return to full health on the blueline.