By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
With their deadline here, Kevin Epp, the agent for Arizona Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson, has confirmed to Coyotes insider Craig Morgan that his client will be staying put with the Coyotes.
“Time’s up,” Epp told Morgan.
But that OEL-imposed deadline didn’t come without a last-minute pitch from the Vancouver Canucks, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger. Per Dreger, that pitch failed to move the process along, and the Canucks and Bruins were “done trying.” The Bruins and Canucks, mind you, were the only teams the 29-year-old Ekman-Larsson, who holds a full no-movement clause, had on his list this offseason.
On the hook for $8.25 million for the next seven seasons, absorbing the contract was always a problem for both teams.
The Canucks have some long-term deals with their core pieces looming, and the Bruins weren’t going to add that contract to their books without the Coyotes eating some money. (The Coyotes’ financial woes probably made the idea of them eating money sandwiches for the next seven years almost impossible.) That, with the Coyotes also seeking a first-round pick and some NHL-ready prospects, was always going to make this a tough deal to stomach.
In other words, first-year general manager Bill Armstrong was never dealing from a position of strength, and it’s not hard to imagine the Bruins and Canucks having little interest in essentially bidding against themselves at the 11th hour.
There was also the fact that neither team seemed particularly sold on Ekman-Larsson being the answer to their problems. Ekman-Larsson production has dipped in recent seasons, and though he plays for a team where offense goes to die, a failure to bounce-back to the production of yesteryear could’ve made his contract a downright disaster for the B’s or Canucks.
And though OEL is off the board, the Bruins may be in the market for some left-shot defensemen, as Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug are on the market as unrestricted free agents, while Matt Grzelcyk is a restricted free agent.
The Bruins have over $14 million in projected cap space.