According to reports, the Arizona Coyotes are working on signing free-agent forward Johan Larsson, who has spent the majority of his career with the Buffalo Sabres.
The 28-year-old Lau native was originally a second-round (56th overall) selection of the Minnesota Wild in the 2010 Draft, making his NHL debut in a 3-2 win for the Wild over the Detroit Red Wings in February 2013.
Just a couple of months later, Larsson was part of the package that sent Jason Pominville from Buffalo to Minnesota and he has gone on to play 392 regular-season games in Western New York.
During that span, the defensive center has registered 38 goals and 97 total points while averaging 14:39 of ice time across his career.
He is fairly reliable in the face-off circle, with a career average of 50% and now he looks close to taking his talents to the desert, with new Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams seemingly not extending him a new contract offer despite what looked to have been a solid year for the Swede.
According to Arizona Insider Craig Morgan, the Coyotes are working on a two-year deal with the UFA after he centered a solid defensive line alongside veterans Zemgus Girgensons and Kyle Okposo.
The future of 35-year-old veteran Brad Richardson is up in the air, with the Coyotes not immediately offering him a new contract, so the signing of Larsson would more than likely see the Canadian leave the desert after five years.
Larsson would fit in well as a bottom line center for the Coyotes, providing defensive reliability, stable face-off statistics, and surprisingly solid possession numbers, having had a 50.3% Corsi rating with the Sabres last season despite starting in the defensive zone a whopping 61% of the time.
Larsson would be another bottom-six addition by new Arizona Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong, who clearly is hoping to add players that suit head coach Rick Tocchet’s physical, defensive scheme while providing better depth across the line-up.
The Coyotes have around $5.6 million of cap space with Marian Hossa’s contract placed on LTIR, so fans should expect plenty more moves from the organization as free agency progresses, with trades to clear up even more space still potentially on the horizon.