Arizona Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson is joining Dougie Hamilton of the Carolina Hurricanes and the Columbus Blue Jackets' Seth Jones among the prominent defensemen in this summer's trade market.
On Saturday, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported the Coyotes will make another attempt to trade Ekman-Larsson. They tried moving him last fall before the 29-year-old defenseman's self-imposed deadline of Oct. 9. At that time, he agreed to waive his no-movement clause for only the Boston Bruins or Vancouver Canucks. Talks with those clubs fell through before the time limit.
Friedman said the Coyotes and Ekman-Larsson will take a different approach this time. If management gets a suitable offer, they'll confer with his representatives to determine if he's comfortable with it. That could broaden his preferred trade destinations but there's no certainty a suitable deal will be found.
AZ Coyotes Insider Craig Morgan pointed out Ekman-Larsson's performance has declined in recent years. His average ice time in 2020-21 (20:58) was his lowest since his rookie season while his 5-on-5 numbers were “disturbingly low for a player of his stature and pay grade.”
His contract is another big sticking point. Apart from the no-movement clause, he's carrying an $8.25-million annual salary cap hit through 2026-27. The Coyotes could be forced to absorb part of it or take back another hefty salary to make a deal happen.
Decreasing numbers and a big contract make Ekman-Larsson a difficult sell in an off-season with the salary cap expected to remain flat for 2021-22. Still, there's a chance a club with cap space seeking an experienced left-side defenseman could take a chance if the dollars can be worked out.