25-Year-Old Defenseman – Arizona Coyotes
Oliver Ekman-Larsson Contract Information:
Signed a six-year, $33 million contract extension with the Coyotes in March 2013.
Ekman-Larsson picked up two assists in Saturday's overtime victory over the Penguins.
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Oliver Ekman-Larsson: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Ekman-Larsson entered 2014-15 with more hype than in any of his previous four seasons, with many analysts touting him as a viable Norris Trophy candidate. While he had stretches in which he appeared to struggle on the ice, from a fantasy perspective, OEL delivered another solid season at a discount compared to the higher selections poolies likely shelled out on draft day for the Subbans, Karlssons, and Doughtys of the league. The 24-year-old Swede delivered a career-high and NHL defensemen-leading 23 goals, his second consecutive 40-point season, and 264 shots on net . The shot total represented a 32.6 percent increase over the previous season and ranked him top 15 in the league among all skaters. If Ekman-Larsson is able to come close to replicating those numbers again, it will be easier to overlook his defensive shortcomings, even in leagues that count plus/minus rating, where his minus-18 mark last season dinged him a bit. In addition, OEL will almost certainly finish among the league leaders in ice time, as he figures to play around 25 minutes per game on the Coyotes' weak defensive corps.
Ekman-Larsson set new career-highs in goals (15) and points (44) last season, while seeing the sixth-most ice time in the league (25:53 per game). OEL improved in nearly every facet thatís fantasy-relevant, including his production on the power play (22 points), as well as in PIM, hits and blocked shots. Most impressively, he blew away his previous-best shot total by amassing 199 blasts on net. Needless to say, the 23-year-old is an up-and-coming fantasy stud who, if he played on a better team, would be far more appreciated. Use that slight Arizona discount to your advantage and draft him as one of your top defensemen, without paying the price for one with more name recognition.
Ekman-Larsson signed a six-year extension with the Coyotes during last season, so the team has its outstanding young blue liner locked up long-term. OEL chipped in 24 points (three goals) in 48 games in 2012-13 and the importance of his offensive contributions can't be overlooked on a team that has often struggled to light the lamp. He didn't come close to matching the goal-scoring pace he set in 2011-12 (13 goals in 82 games), but Ekman-Larsson is perhaps one of the safer defensive selections on the fantasy board. He also finished with a plus-5 rating and 73 hits, and it wouldn't be unreasonable to think he could come close to 40 points in a full season.
Ekman-Larsson, one of the game's top young blueliners, had a breakout season in 2011-12, notching 32 points, including 13 goals, 140 hits and 92 blocked shots in 82 games. OEL should be owned in all fantasy leagues as the 20-year-old is only going to improve after his first full season in the NHL. He could deliver 40 points this year.
The Coyotes lost aggressive defenseman Ed Jovanovski to Florida in free agency, but general manager Don Maloney expects his 2009 first-round pick to fill in and skate top-six minutes in 2011-12. Ekman-Larsson doesn't present the same offensive blue-line threat as teammate Keith Yandle, but posted a solid stat line in 48 games with the Coyotes last season: 11 points (1 G, 10 A), a plus-3 rating, and 24 PIMs to go along with 41 hits.
Based on Ekman-Larsson's performance last season with Leksand, where he posted three goals and 14 assists with a plus-44 rating, he might be the next young star on the Coyotes' blue line. With the departure of Zbynek Michalek, and an aging defense corps, Ekman-Larsson might make a splash for 2010-11. While it is too early to tell if his game that played in Sweden will translate to the NHL, the Coyotes have high hopes on their first round draft pick. He is a possibility to be inserted as a sixth defenseman, but he will have some competition for that job.
Ekman-Larsson would excite most fans in a traditional hockey market. The sixth overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Ekmann-Larsson isn't going to put up big offensive numbers, but his selection indicated how desperate Phoenix is at the blue line. The big Swedish defenseman put up an outstanding plus-44 for Leksands in the Swedish second division.