By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Boston Bruins and Arizona Coyotes are taking things to the 11th hour with Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
And with that OEL-imposed Friday deadline looming, the latest report from TSN’s Darren Dreger’s noted that the Coyotes are seemingly waiting for the Bruins to make their move, but that the Bruins still aren’t in love with the asking price.
Due $8.25 million per year over the next seven years, it’s believed that the Coyotes want to dump this contract entirely. They also want an NHL-ready defenseman and a first-round pick, and are open to taking on some salary filler. (The Coyotes are reportedly months behind on their arena payments, and basically need to get out of this contract.)
The Bruins, for what it’s worth, aren’t keen on absorbing the entirety of that $8.25 million cap hit to their books. They’ve coveted their cap flexibility above all else since Don Sweeney took over for Peter Chiarelli in 2015, and they were even willing to part with a first-round pick to get 75% of the remaining year and a half of David Backes’ $6 million cap hit off their books.
This has likely been the holdup in these talks, especially with Sportsnet reporting that the Coyotes like the Bruins’ prospects more than those that have been bandied about in talks with the Canucks. Vancouver’s Jim Benning is in a tighter cap situation than the Bruins, too, and that’s with pending free agent goaltender Jakob Markstrom still without a deal.
It’s a tough negotiating spot for the ‘Yotes. And it’s naturally led to first-year general manager Bill Armstrong and the Coyotes asking their captain to expand his list. (It’s believed that the Oilers and Flames have wanted in on the OEL sweepstakes.)
But Ekman-Larsson has refused to budge, and remains willing to accept a trade to either Vancouver or Boston.
Sweeney has refused to budge, too, opting not to talk about the OEL rumors at all earlier this week, and noting that the financial flexibility aspect of the Black and Gold’s roster construct remains as important as ever.
“We’d like to get better, we’d like to improve,” Sweeney said Wednesday. “We’re not as good as we need to be. And that’s the bottom line. We’re going to explore absolutely everything, but there are some financial constraints. I think our club and our cap situation is pretty good right now. But you can tip that upside down in a hurry, so we have to understand what that looks like going forward, both this year and moving forward, I think we’ve done a decent job and I’d like to improve our club.”
The 29-year-old Ekman-Larsson recorded nine goals and 30 points in 66 games last year.