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Oliver Ekman-Larsson, The NHL’s Best D-Man, Signs for Eight Years in Arizona

Oliver Ekman-Larsson is staying in Arizona on an 8-year deal.

When you think of great NHL D-Men, Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s seldom comes up. But, I think he is one of the best NHL defensemen currently playing. For me, maybe only Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators is better. Do I like the Swedes? I suppose, but I would rank the Kings’ Drew Doughty and the Pred’s P.K. Subban ahead of the Lightning’s Victor Hedman; so, it isn’t all Sweden all the time

Ekman-Larsson just signed for eight more years in Arizona – for which I am pleased. I like it for Ekman-Larsson, and I like it for the Coyotes. His $8 million per year is a very good salary for Arizona – one of the cheapest NHL cities to live in. Being a long-time Shane Doan fan, and having a home in the Phoenix area myself, I know how great Phoenix can be. Eight million goes a long way there. As I said, good for the Coyotes: good for Ekman-Larsson.

Ekman-Larsson has been the center of the Coyotes defense for the last seven years. He averages almost 20 goals each year. He even led the Coyotes’ team in scoring in 2015-16 with a career-best 55 points – and how often does a D-Man lead his team in points? He is only 26 years old, but can take over games – especially on the power-play. Ekman-Larsson is also great in the clutch, averaging almost 7 game-winning goals per year. That’s almost 10% of his team’s game-winning goals – quite an achievement for a team that really doesn’t win that much.

Ekman-Larsson has spent his entire career with the Coyotes. He will only be 27 this year and has lots of hockey left – especially for a Defense Man. I like it that he is a fixture in Arizona, and gives the fans something steady to cheer for. Had he have gone free agency, his salary would have been much higher.

Now it is up to the Arizona Coyotes, one of the NHL’s worst teams last year, to use Ekman-Larsson as a block to build around. Here’s hoping they can find the kind of talent that will help them snap their playoff drought. After the Oilers, the Coyotes are my second favorite team – so, last year was a tough one all the way around.

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