This season was not what we imagined for Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He should be in the Norris conversation with countrymen Erik Karlsson and Victor Hedman. He should have been more productive than his 12 goals, 27 assists for 39 points in 79 games. In the 2015-16 season, he had 21 goals and 34 assists for 55 points, a career high. You would think he would have been on pace for a least 20 goals again, but it just wasn’t in the cards this year.
OEL started with Team Sweden at the World Cup where he played four games but didn’t have any points. He came back to the desert ready to wow the world again with the Arizona Coyotes. What we didn’t know then, is that his heart was already heavy, worrying about his mother.
The team seems to go as OEL goes. If OEL has an amazing game, you have a better chance of winning. If OEL looks off his game, it’s going to be a rough ride.
But when OEL is scoring? He looks good.
A few goals of note: He scored his first five goals in October, then went silent goal wise until December 15th. This is after he had broken his thumb in a game against the San Jose Sharks on November 29th, that Craig Morgan alluded to in this article in December before it was announced. It’s possible that he was working through other injuries as well, as his game did slow down and suffer from that game on November 29th.
I watched a lot of OEL during the season, and you could just tell that something wasn’t quite right with his skating and shooting and hand placement on his stick. The shooting was caused by his broken hand, but there could have been an injury to the lower body that we have not been told about.
I always say that OEL is like a shark, he can never stop moving while on the ice. I recommend watching games from the 2015/16 season and games from the middle of the 2016/17 season and you will see what I mean.
The other factor for OEL’s struggle this year was personal. As we learned at the end of the season, his mother lost her battle with Breast Cancer. This would weigh on the mind of anyone, but this is a young man of 25 who is almost 6,000 miles from home. This is when we remember that hockey players are human as well. And that Oliver Ekman-Larsson, though a veteran on the team, is only a young man who lost his mother.
I am giving OEL a C for the season with the Coyotes. Injuries and heartache can impact good young players.
So don’t try to trade the poor guy just yet, he had a blip of a season.
In good news, he did play an amazing World Championship and had one of the shootout goals that won Sweden the gold medal, which he said he is taking to his mother’s grave.
However grim the season was for Oliver, next year is going to be a motivation for him. Playing for a new contract, having his brother playing in Tucson, and wanting to win The Big Shiny in honor of his mother.
The grades of all the other Coyotes players can be found on our master post here.
What Grade Do You Give Oliver Ekman-Larsson?
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