Updated Landing Spots for Canucks Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2022

Updated Landing Spots for Canucks Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson

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    For the second time in less than a year, Oliver Ekman-Larsson is on the move.

    Or at least that's the word on the NHL street.

    League insider Elliotte Friedman suggested to CHEK TV on Monday that the Vancouver Canucks are trying to deal the 30-year-old, whom they acquired from the Arizona Coyotes last July.

    He's a skilled, puck-moving defenseman, which makes him a perpetual wish list item for most of the teams in the league, though the contract he signed in 2018 that'll pay him $8.25 million annually through 2026-27 season narrows the suitor list a bit—as does the no-movement clause that's part of the pact as well.

    But make no mistake, GM Patrik Allvin's phone will be buzzing in British Columbia.

    And given that reality, the B/R hockey staff sprang into action to deliver an updated list of potential landing spots for the 6'2", 200-pound Swede should he indeed be on the trading block.

    Scroll through to see what we came up with and give us an idea or two of your own in the comments.

Anaheim Ducks

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    They didn't make the playoffs this season after a second-half swoon, but it may not be a bad time to get a spot on the Anaheim Ducks' bandwagon.

    Coach Dallas Eakins' team is flush with young, highlight-producing talent on the NHL level and a horde of prospects on the way as well. Plus, the Ducks are looking at $40 million or so in cap space at the moment, though that'll be whittled somewhat as new GM Pat Verbeek makes some decisions on pending free agents.

    Speaking of youngsters, defenseman Jamie Drysdale was a teenager for most of the season and saw at least 20 minutes of ice time for nearly half the 81 games he played. Ekman-Larsson is a veteran of 12 seasons in the NHL, has played more than 800 games and could be an ideal complement to a talented kid.

    Given the lack of true powerhouse teams in the Pacific Division, full-season contention could be immediate if the Ducks pull the right strings this summer.

Buffalo Sabres

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    Speaking of bandwagons, the Buffalo Sabres could be a team to consider, too.

    Though they haven't made the playoffs since 2011 and haven't won a postseason series since the George W. Bush administration, the Sabres give every indication that a prodigious rise is imminent.

    Buffalo was the eighth-best team in the Eastern Conference from March 1 through the end of the regular season—going 16-9-3 in that stretch—and that late run included the debut of Owen Power, a 6'6", 213-pounder the team plucked with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 draft.

    As was the case with Drysdale in Anaheim, Ekman-Larsson could be an ideal role model for Power, not to mention fellow Swedish export Rasmus Dahlin, whom the Sabres picked first overall in 2018.

    Buffalo is looking at $43 million and change in cap space as the offseason begins, so the finances would be uncomplicated, and chances are the return price to Vancouver wouldn't be an arm and a leg.

Detroit Red Wings

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    OK, maybe this is a trend.

    The Detroit Red Wings have a star in the making on the blue line in Calder Trophy candidate Moritz Seider and also have a significant amount of projected cap space ($36.5 million) to work with. 

    They also have a pressing need for mobile veteran skill on that back end—only three non-rookies are signed past this season—and they're going to be getting a new coach after the firing of Jeff Blashill.

    It's a certainty that said new coach will want to arrive with a big splash, and what better way to make it than by getting a solid player like Ekman-Larsson who's signed for the long term and can make an instant impact?

    GM Steve Yzerman is flush with draft picks over the next several seasons and has the track record to prove that he can make the right deal at the right moment.

New Jersey Devils

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    This just in: The New Jersey Devils need back-end help.

    Only three teams allowed more goals than the 302 they surrendered, and they'll just happen to have a high-priced veteran—that's P.K. Subban and his $9 million salary, to be specific—coming off the books to free up some room to bring in a defender perhaps better suited to the task.

    New Jersey swung for the fences last offseason with the free-agent acquisition of Dougie Hamilton for $9 million per year through 2027-28, but he missed 20 games and plunged from 42 points in 55 games with the Carolina Hurricanes to just 30 in 62 games with the Devils.

    Ekman-Larsson could augment his skill set, add leadership and help alleviate the goals-against issues. New Jersey projects to be $25 million or so under the cap, so simply swapping out Subban's cash for Ekman-Larsson's could balance the books nicely enough.

New York Islanders

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    Let's face it, the New York Islanders are in some turmoil these days.

    Coach Barry Trotz was shown the door after his fourth straight season above .500 (in points percentage)—albeit his first without a playoff berth—and GM Lou Lamoriello has never seen a ground-shaking personnel move he didn't like.

    There's a significant need for a left-shot defenseman considering only Adam Pelech is signed for next season on that side and soon-to-be free agents Zdeno Chara and Andy Greene are a combined 84 years old.

    The Islanders were among the league's best in preventing goals in 2021-22—in fact, their 2.82 goals-against average ranked seventh—but triggering offense from the back end is a glaring need considering their 22nd overall standing in goals scored per game.

    Ekman-Larsson could address that need as a plug-and-play talent considering his resume includes seven seasons with 12 or more goals, including two trips past 20 in 2014-15 and 2015-16 with Arizona.