Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning has been busy working the phones over the past week. After an impressive 2019-20 campaign, the club followed up with a disappointing 2020-21 season. Benning made his first major move of the offseason in a blockbuster trade with the Arizona Coyotes.
The Canucks acquired defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland for Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, Loui Eriksson, the ninth overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, a 2022 second-round pick and a 2023 seventh-round pick. The Coyotes retained 12 percent of Ekman-Larsson’s salary.
Canucks Finally Add Ekman-Larsson
Benning finally acquired Ekman-Larsson after spending a good amount of time last season attempting to trade for the veteran defenceman. The GM spent most of his time last offseason trying to negotiate an extension with goalie Jacob Markstrom and attempting to add the Swedish d-man, which led to the club losing out on two of their key free agents in Chris Tanev and Tyler Toffoli.
Ekman-Larsson is a very controversial addition as he has been on a downward trend over the past few seasons, while his cap-hit is pretty high. He signed an eight-year contract extension with the Coyotes with an annual average value of $8.250 million. The 30-year-old has six years remaining in his contract. The main concern for the Canucks is they’ve added a player with a big cap hit for the next six seasons, while most of their core is either waiting to be re-signed or their contracts are expiring in the next year or so.
The Canucks do add help on their blue line, which has needed to be worked on over the past few seasons. Adding Ekman-Larsson does allow the team to move on from long-time Canuck Alex Edler. He also improves the team’s top-four while guiding young defenders such as Quinn Hughes, Jack Rathbone and Olli Juolevi with veteran experience. Additionally, the club is hoping the 30-year-old can return to playing how he did when he first earned his contract extension in 2018.
Garland a Great Addition for Vancouver
The real upside in this trade comes from Garland, who is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. The Canucks have been looking for a middle-six forward to start the offseason, and the 25-year-old seems to fit that role. He will be entering his fourth NHL season and has scored 47 goals and posted 96 points in 164 games.
Garland seems like the perfect winger for captain Bo Horvat, who’s had multiple wingers throughout his NHL career. With the addition of Vasili Podkolzin and Jason Dickinson, the Canucks now seem to have a very promising top-nine lineup.
Coyotes Take on Short Term Contracts To Draft in the Top-10
The Coyotes took on three short-term contracts with high cap hits in Eriksson, Roussell and Beagle. All three contracts are set to end after the 2021-22 season. The Coyotes jump into the top-10 of tonight’s NHL Entry Draft after forfeiting the 11 overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft and their second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft as the organization was punished for violating the scouting combine policy by conducting physical tests of draft-eligible players. They also added future assets in a second-round pick in the 2022 Draft and a 2023 seventh-round pick.
The trade indicates the Canucks are in win-now mode after only making the playoffs once over the past six seasons. For the Coyotes, they get rid of their captain and his heavy contract while adding three short-term contracts and a top-10 draft pick.
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.