On the 23rd day of August, with the preseason countdown at 23 days, it seems only fitting that the focal point is number 23 himself; Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Today's countdown will discuss number 23's 2013 season. For a more detailed article on Ekman-Larsson, click here.
Ekman-Larsson has progressed from highly-touted prospect to one of the League's best two-way defensemen.
His offensive accolades (24 points in 48 games) are nice on the surface, but become more incredible by the ice time he sees and the competition he faces.
In 2013, OEL faced the toughest competition of any player in the NHL with a Corsi Relative QoC* of 2.761 (Zbynek Michalek was second with a RelC QoC of 2.371). Not only was the competition tough, so was the ice time. Ekman-Larsson started in the offensive zone 45.8 percent of the time; second lowest of any defenseman on the team. OEL was also the only defenseman on the Phoenix Coyotes to draw more penalties (.9/60 minutes) than he took (.6/60).
Despite the quality of competition and zone starts, the 22-year-old still managed a positive on-ice Corsi*** (1.22). That, coupled with the fact that he ended in the offensive zone 3.3 percent more than he started, helps illustrate his defensive prowess.
Ekman-Larsson's game continues to grow as Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett uses the defenseman in all situations. He plays on the power play and kills penalities; OEL is the complete package.
To quote from the article mentioned above: "For a city in desperate need of a sports superstar on a winning team, OEL presents the perfect mix of talent, professionalism and youth that makes a superstar. When (Shane) Doan finally passes the torch and the "C" on his jersey, it may very well be to Oliver Ekman-Larsson."
*Corsi Relative QoC is defined by Hockey Prospectus as: "A measure of competition quality using relative Corsi as its basis. The most statistically sound quality of competition metric currently used.
**Relative Corsi is defined by Hockey Prospectus as: "A player's Corsi value in comparison to his teammates. Relative Corsi is expressed as the player's Corsi minus the team Corsi rate. A positive value indicates a player who is better than the team average and a negative number is a player who is worse than the team average."
Note: All advanced stats used in this article are calculated during 5-on-5 play and are gathered from Behind The Net.