Oliver Ekman-Larsson was involved in a drawn-out process last off-season where the Coyotes explored their chances of parting ways with the left-handed defenceman.
Considering his full No-Movement Clause, it meant that the 29-year-old Swede had complete control over his future in the desert, and the only two teams he would reportedly even consider waiving the clause for were the Boston Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks.
The Coyotes captain also placed his own trade deadline on the team, which they unsurprisingly were unable to meet - meaning he played the Covid-shortened 2021 season with the team he has spent his entire career with since being selected sixth overall in the 2009 Draft.
According to many metrics, Ekman-Larson had a difficult season in 2021, which involved a lengthy injury. But it also saw him register a respectable 24 total points (three goals, 21 assists) in 46 games - which would be a 42/43-point pace over a full 82 games.
Arizona reportedly looking to move Oliver Ekman-Larsson... I think that ship has probably sailed. Should've taken what they could get last fall I guess! pic.twitter.com/Hdw0BlKSLr— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) June 20, 2021
His points production doesn’t appear to be enough for the Coyotes organization to simply hold onto the 11-year NHL veteran, who has a hefty contract at an $8.25 million AAV over the next six years, with the next three years seeing him earn a combined $31.5 million.
This time around, however, it seems that the Arizona Coyotes will take a different approach in exploring their options moving forward.
Last season, when the team looked at dealing with the two teams Ekman-Larsson was willing to move to, it limited their chances of getting value in return.
This time, however, the team is reportedly looking at what the value is across the league, seeing what teams are willing to part with to land his services. Afterward, they will present him with the choice of taking a fresh start elsewhere or remaining tied to the desert.
Seeing Ekman-Larsson on another team will be a strange experience, and there’s every possibility that he could return to his former self when the team finally hires a new coach.
But if the team is eager to move on from his contract and start to build a new-look team under the guidance of general manager Bill Armstrong, this is an unsurprising first step towards that.
There’s no guarantee that a deal will even be struck, but it will be a key storyline to follow throughout the off-season, particularly before the Entry Draft next month.