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A Cautionary Tale: How Shea Weber Affects Oliver Ekman-Larsson

After several days with little news around the NHL, a big story finally broke. On Wednesday, restricted free agent Shea Weber signed a 14-year offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers reportedly worth $110 million.  As per the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), Nashville, Weber’s former team, has seven days to match the offer or allow him to join the Flyers and receive four 1st-round draft picks as compensation. I will refrain from delving into how absurd it is to sign a player with a cap hit of $7.857 million until he is age 40.

But, this is the Phoenix Coyotes page; why is this significant? Well, the Coyotes have their own top defenseman set to become an RFA next off-season. That man is Oliver Ekman-Larsson.  Ekman-Larsson, 21, is already one of the best defensemen in the NHL. Ekman-Larsson was ranked 33rd in total points and 5th in goals among all NHL defensemen; and was ranked 18th in points and 3rd in goals among Western Conference defensemen last season. Ekman-Larsson also led all Coyotes in ice time during the post-season. All this at the age of 20.

Don Maloney needs to extend Ekman-Larsson before July 1, 2013. Otherwise, Maloney runs the risk of letting another team dictate the length and terms of Ekman-Larsson’s next contract, just like the Flyers did with Weber. Compensation terms of a matched offer sheet contract can not be changed. And the matching team can not trade that player for one year. Based on current CBA rules, a team could theoretically submit an offer sheet to Ekman-Larsson that would dictate the bonuses Ekman-Larsson could earn which could a large upfront cash payment during the first calendar year (like Weber’s). With the extra cap space available, Maloney should extend the contract of Ekman-Larsson so the Coyotes can decide the terms of the contract not another team.

*** Be advised that I will be doing a mailbag story this weekend answering any questions about possible signings, trades, line combinations, etc. If interested, click the “Contact” button at the top of this article and send me an e-mail with you questions. You can also tweet me those questions by hitting the “Twitter” button at the top of the article, or comment on this story. ***