The Arizona Coyotes are excited about their offseason moves, and perhaps none more than Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The Coyotes star defenseman has gained a friend and pairing in Niklas Hjalmarsson, who has played with him on the international stage in the past. The two Swedes will team up on Arizona’s first pair this season and try to make some noise in the Western Conference. Speaking with Dave Vest of NHL.com, Ekman-Larsson spoke about his new teammate:
I’m super excited about [playing with Hjalmarsson]. He’s super easy to play with. He talks a lot and he’s a good skater and moves the puck. I would say he’s underrated.
While Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook got a lot of the national press out of Chicago, any Blackhawks fan will tell you that Hjalmarsson was an integral piece to the three Stanley Cup teams. He was a defensive rock for the club for many years, and will try to allow Ekman-Larsson to open up his game a little bit while still taking on the tough matchups.
- Michael Russo of the Star Tribune reports that Mikael Granlund rolled his ankle in Finland and has been seen on crutches, but is still expected to be ready for training camp. It will slow down the young forward’s offseason training, but luckily he seems to have escaped serious injury. Granlund will be relied upon heavily for the Minnesota Wild this season after signing a three-year, $17.25MM contract this summer.
- In other Granlund news, Rick Dhaliwal of NEWS 1130 reports that Markus Granlund’s wrist is fully healthy and the Vancouver Canucks forward is already skating. Granlund underwent surgery in March to correct an ongoing issue, but is “100%” and ready for training camp. Coming off a 19-goal season, he could jump onto a top-line role once again for the Canucks.
- Granlund also told Dhaliwal that he thinks Bo Horvat’s new contract will be done soon. Horvat is still sitting as a restricted free agent even though Canucks’ GM Jim Benning has been clear he wants to lock him up long-term. The young center will likely be the new face of the franchise in Vancouver once the Sedin twins leave town, and will be looking for a contract which adequately compensates him for that.
- The Toronto Marlies have signed a goaltender to work with Garret Sparks this year. The team announced they’ve signed Cal Heeter to a one-year AHL deal, bringing him in after a solid end of the season with the Calder Cup champion Grand Rapids Griffins. Antoine Bibeau, the previous goaltender for the Marlies was not given a qualifying offer this spring and signed with the San Jose Sharks.