Canucks’ Potential Trade Partners for Ekman-Larsson

The Vancouver Canucks are exploring a trade market for defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes. However, Ekman-Larsson controls whether the team trades him or not, as he has a no-move clause. 

Oliver Ekman-Larsson Vancouver Canucks
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Vancouver Canucks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The veteran defenceman played his first season with the Canucks this past season after the organization acquired him in a trade with Arizona Coyotes. A few things have changed since the trade, as the Canucks now have a new president of hockey operations in Jim Rutherford and a new general manager in Patrik Allvin. The two have expressed the importance of cap space as the club has $13.035 million in cap space heading into this offseason. Ekman-Larsson ($7.260 million) is one of the club’s three blueliners with a cap hit of $6 million, along with Quinn Hughes ($7.850 million) and Tyler Myers ($6 million).

Hughes is a franchise cornerstone and won’t be moved by the Canucks, while Ekman-Larsson and Myers are both veteran defencemen, and the club can afford to move either one of them. Myers has two years remaining on his deal, while Ekman-Larsson has five years remaining. The term remaining on the Swedish defenceman’s contract may be why the organization is looking to move on from him. However, it may be difficult to find willing trade partners due to the term of his deal at the age of 30 and his no move clause.

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Still, Ekman Larsson is a reliable left-handed defenceman, who had a pretty good season away from the points category as a second-line defender. A few teams could use the blueliner’s experience and skill on the left side of their defence. Here are three teams who could use Ekman-Larsson on their blue line. 

Los Angeles Kings

The Los Angeles Kings are transitioning into a competitive playoff team after pushing the Edmonton Oilers to Game 7 in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. With their old core of Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick looking to make a final Cup run along with a new and younger core, the Kings could look to add help on their blue line. 

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The Kings’ right side is locked up with Doughty, Sean Durzi, Sean Walker and Matt Roy, while their left side could use some help. Both Alex Edler and Olli Maatta are unrestricted free agents this offseason, while Michael Anderson is a restricted free agent. Ekman-Larsson could join the club and man the top pairing alongside Doughty or even the second pairing with either Durzi, Walker or Roy. Additionally, the Kings have $20.625 million in cap space, which means they can afford Ekman-Larsson’s contract.

New York Islanders

The New York Islanders are coming off of a disappointing season. After back-to-back Eastern Conference Semifinal appearances, the club failed to make it to the postseason in the 2021-22 season. After firing head coach Barry Trotz, the club is still looking to compete and make a return to the playoffs next season. Therefore, the team could use a veteran defenceman such as Ekman-Larsson. 

The Islanders have Ryan Pulock, Scott Mayfield and Noah Dobson on the right side of their blue line, while Adam Pelech is the only left defenceman signed on the roster. Zdeno Chara (45 years old) and Andy Green’s (39) future in the NHL is in question as both players are far past their prime. Ekman-Larsson could play big minutes for the Islanders as they struggled to find a left-handed defender other than Pelech to play over 19 minutes last season. Ekman-Larsson was second on the Canucks in time on ice per game with 22:19 last season.

New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils have been a rumored trade partner of the Canucks for some time. The Canucks have had a reported interest in forward Pavel Zacha, and a potential trade for Ekman-Larsson could be possible. The Devils are a team looking to make a playoff push with their young core of Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. However, they could use help on their backend. With Dougie Hamilton leading the way on the right side and Damon Severson following him, the Devils have Ryan Graves and Jonas Siegenthaler on the left and Ty Smith, who can play on both sides.

Related: 3 Canucks That Could Be Traded for the Devils’ 2nd Overall Pick in 2022

Ekman-Larsson would fit in well with the Devils’ blue line as he wouldn’t have to score much. Severson posted 11 goals and 46 points in 80 games, while Hamilton posted nine goals and 30 points in 62 games. Ekman-Larsson would be able to focus on playing a more defensive game, something he did in Vancouver this past season. Graves averaged 20:43 in time on ice, leading all left-side defenders on the roster. Ekman-Larsson would be able to help out with the load by playing just as much or even more.

Trading Ekman-Larsson May Be Complicated

Due to Ekman-Larsson’s no-move clause, trading the Swede will be tough for Due to Ekman-Larsson’s no-move clause, trading the Swede will be tough for Vancouver. Before joining the Canucks, Ekman-Larsson made it tough for the Coyotes to trade him as he would only waive the clause for his current team or the Boston Bruins. The organization could attempt to make a trade with the Bruins, however, they acquired left-shot defenceman Hampus Lindholm from the Anahiem Ducks this past season and extended him for eight years.

The Canucks have to clear cap space this offseason in order to keep their top forwards in J.T. Miller, Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat. Trading Ekman-Larsson is one of the ways the Canucks can do so, but they have to find an interested team that the defenceman is willing to join.