Rumors have been swirling over the past few weeks about the Arizona Coyotes shopping defenseman and team captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Those rumors have intensified in recent days. The Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks have emerged as the two teams that he is willing to waive his no-move clause for and that want him. The 29-year-old defenseman has seven years left on his deal that counts $8.25 million against the cap each year. He had 30 points in 66 games for the Coyotes in the regular season. He then added one goal and three assists in nine playoff games. So, would this be a smart move for the Bruins to make? I’m not so sure.
He’s Declined in Recent Years
My biggest concern with Ekman-Larsson is the fact that his play has declined in recent years. He is not the defenseman he once was. It’s extremely concerning to me that this is happening at 29-years-old. While it’s true some players do start showing signs of decline at this point, top players, which Ekman-Larsson was, rarely do. A part of this could be due to the fact that he was named captain and some players struggle with that added pressure. But, I don’t think we can attribute all of it to that. I also don’t think it’s worth the gamble to see if that’s the case.
Considering the potential captaincy issue, as well as the fact that the Bruins have a superior coaching staff that could probably get a lot more out of him, there’s reason to believe he would turn it around if he came to Boston. However, it’s a red flag to me that he’s already declined, even if it was due to a few other factors. The fact that he’s already declined once (assuming he turns it around a bit) alludes to the fact that he will likely not age well. He may be able to turn it around for a few seasons. But, it is very likely that he declines again while still having a lot left on his contract. He’s under contract for the next seven years at a high cap hit. It’s extremely risky to gamble on him turning it around with that big of a contract.
Ekman-Larsson going downhill in the middle of his contract would spell big trouble for the Bruins. It would render him untradeable, particularly given his full no-move clause. David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy (among others) will also need new deals before Ekman-Larsson’s is up, and you better believe they’ll command some serious money, barring any extremely unfortunate events. Having an aging defenseman at that high of a cap-hit, and especially one who isn’t playing up to it, would complicate matters significantly for the team. So, that’s one reason that I don’t think this is worth the risk.
He Could Cost a Lot to Get
His recent decline isn’t my only concern when it comes to obtaining Ekman-Larsson. There’s also the big question of what it would cost to obtain him. The Coyotes are extremely cap-strapped right now and thus desperate to shed salary, and teams know that. So, that’ll lower his trade value a bit in all likelihood. But, it will likely still cost a lot. One of the rumors floating around out there was that the Coyotes were looking for a top-4 defenseman in return as well as a decent pick. I don’t know how much truth there is to that, as I haven’t seen anything on it in a while. But, it’s reasonable to assume that it’s at least close.
In my opinion, that’s a lot to give up given his contract and how much of a gamble this is. I don’t know about you, but under no circumstances do I want to see Bruins GM Don Sweeney give up Brandon Carlo for Oliver Ekman-Larsson. It just wouldn’t be a smart move in any way. Carlo is just 23, while Ekman-Larsson is 29, as I’ve mentioned a few times. Carlo is also significantly cheaper now and still will be in the future. So, there is no scenario in which it’s smart for the Bruins to make that trade. I honestly don’t see it happening, but I just need to throw it out there given that he is around the Coyotes rumored ask.
Is This a Real Possibility For the Bruins? Should They Do It?
As you can probably infer from the rest of the article, I really don’t want the Bruins to make this move. It’s honestly puzzling to me why this is even being considered. Why would you trade for a more expensive player that is a huge gamble when you could just take that money (and actually not even all of it) to re-sign Torey Krug? You already know Krug’s a better fit, and he’s much less of a gamble both now and even in the future. So, this just makes no sense.
The only way I would even remotely come around to this trade is if the Coyotes retain a decent chunk of salary, and that’s incredibly unlikely. The whole point of trading him for them is to dump cap. So, they aren’t exactly going to be keen on retaining salary. Because of that, not only do I not think it’s a good idea, but I truly don’t see how he fits under the Bruins cap with his full salary right now and in the future. The math just doesn’t seem to work.
Luckily, tonight the rumors have shifted more towards him going to Vancouver. They’ve reportedly made real offers for him where the Bruins haven’t. I hope this is true because I just don’t see an OEL trade working out well for the Bruins. I think it’d be fine for now, but it would be a disaster in a few years. It’s well-established at this point that the Bruins are looking to make some moves, and there have been a lot of rumors flying around different players lately, which you can read more about here. I really hope this is one of them that doesn’t end up working out. Don’t has the potential to be a good deal. But, it seems much more likely that it turns sour, and fairly quickly. It’s absolutely not worth the risk in my opinion. So, let’s hope it never happens.
-Lydia Murray (@lydia_murray12)
Featured image courtesy of Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports
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