A franchise as maligned as the Phoenix Coyotes are can use some good news every once in a while. And the Coyotes got the best of news on Friday as the team announced a six-year contract extension with rising star defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Regular visitors to the site know that I’m a gigantic fan of Ekman-Larsson. I make no effort to hide it. This kid is a future superstar and the fact that he plays in Phoenix makes him severely underrated/appreciated. This new deal should bring some vindication for those who view Ekman-Larsson as the next great NHL defenseman.
That’s not to say that he’s going to be in the Hall of Fame tomorrow. Perhaps some day. For now, we are watching his game develop on a game-by-game basis. And the results so far this season have been pretty fantastic.
He may not win it, but it’s hard to argue the fact that Ekman-Larsson is a Norris Trophy candidate this season. He’s a point off of leading the team in points and is among the higher scoring defenseman in the league. As impressive as he is offensively, he’s just as strong in his own end.
Ekman-Larsson is easily the Coyotes’ leader in plus/minus, sitting at a plus-8. The Coyotes are miles better offensively when he’s on the ice, and better defensively as well.
The skill set of Oliver Ekman-Larsson definitely has elite written all over it. He’s a terrific puck mover and almost always seems to make the right passes. He’s a terrific skater and is responsible in his own end. What he lacks in physicality he more than makes up for in range and his ability to poke the puck away from opposing forwards.
This extension that Ekman-Larsson and the Coyotes just agreed to is for six years and will pay him $33 million over the course of those years. It’s a pretty backloaded deal, but will carry a cap hit of $5.5 million. In a couple of years, that contract is going to look like an absolute steal.
Good on the Coyotes for locking up a very important part of the future of their franchise, and a guy who has the potential to be a superstar for years to come. Whether it’s in the desert or somewhere else.