By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Boston Bruins are among those who have called to express interest in a potential trade for Arizona Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
The Bruins were mentioned among the group of three Friedman noted, including the Flames and Oilers, though the hockey insider that there are “undoubtedly more” teams calling on OEL.
A left-shot defenseman, the 29-year-old Ekman-Larsson has spent his entire 723-game NHL career with the Coyotes, including the last two as their team captain, and tallied 125 goals and 364 points.
In what was the first year of an eight-year, $66 million contract that comes with an $8.25 million cap hit, the 6-foot-2 Ekman-Larsson scored nine goals and 30 points, and averaged 23:01 per night (second-most among Arizona skaters) in 66 appearances for the Coyotes in 2019-20. Ekman-Larsson’s 21 helpers ranked fifth among all Coyote skaters, while his 22 even-strength points were the seventh-most on the team. (In case you’re unaware, Arizona has been where offensive success goes to die for whatever reason.)
Ekman-Larsson’s best offensive season came back in 2015-16, when he tallied a career-high 55 points in 75 games, and also set a career-high in power-play points (27). Ekman-Larsson, the sixth overall pick in 2009, is also one of just six defensemen to record multiple 20-goal seasons since 2005; Brent Burns, Dustin Byfuglien, Erik Karlsson, Sheldon Souray, and Shea Weber are the others.
The B’s interest is understandable, there’s uncertainty with left-side defenders and pending free agents Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug, and the Bruins’ left-side defense corps is obviously short on definitive top-four options beyond them.
The price, however, is the real concern here.
On the hook at $8.25 million for another seven seasons, fitting Ekman-Larsson into the mix is hard enough. But giving the Coyotes a strong enough package to get them to bite on moving their captain — unless this is a pure cash dump on the part of the always-strapped Coyotes — is going to be difficult. This could also be the first trade made by new Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong, who most recently served as the Blues’ assistant general manager, too, and beginning that with a losing trade involving your franchise’s most well-known player isn’t exactly the start you’d like.
But this is just the start of an offseason that’s likely to see the Bruins attached to any and every potential star on the move, with team president Cam Neely saying the team will have to be ‘brutally honest’ about their future.
Listen to Ty Anderson and Matt Dolloff talk Bruins on the latest Sports Hub Sidelines podcast: