February 7, 2018 | 10:59am ET
EKMAN-LARSSON INTEREST RISING, COYOTES KEEPING CARDS CLOSE TO VEST
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, defenceman
A number of teams are keeping close tabs on Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s situation in Arizona, as the Coyotes continue to weigh out whether or not they’ll move him by the Feb. 26 trade deadline.
Earlier in the season, Coyotes GM John Chayka shot down trade rumours surrounding Ekman-Larsson, adding the star blueliner has “never once complained to me or talked about greener pastures.”
“I’ve been on the record numerous times about the subject and have been very clear,” Chayka told Arizona Sports 98.7FM in early-November. “I haven’t had a single conversation about Oliver that has lasted more than five seconds.”
However, the Coyotes have failed to make up any ground this season and remain last in the NHL, further complicating matters and furthering speculation over whether or not Ekman-Larsson truly wants to stay in Arizona after his contract expires after the 2018-19 season.
The Coyotes are trying to find a new long-term home around Phoenix and being able to do so, or not, will factor into Ekman-Larsson’s plans.
Now, though, TFP has learned it appears the debate within the Coyotes organization is whether to field serious offers for Ekman-Larsson now, or wait until the NHL Draft Lottery to see if the team will select first-overall on June 22 in Dallas and receive the right to draft highly-touted defenceman Rasmus Dahlin.
If the Coyotes pick first and select Dahlin, whom many consider to be a generational defenceman, it would ease the pain of trading Ekman-Larsson, who would likely be moved for scoring help up front.
The Toronto Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils are among the teams to have been long-linked to Ekman-Larsson, while the Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers are also believed to have interest.
Ekman-Larsson currently ranked No.11 on TFP’s Top 30 Available Players List.