Philadelphia Must Go All-in for OEL

Speaking on TSN Radio this morning, Phoenix Coyotes GM Don Maloney dropped the following bombshell regarding the future of the team:

He was quick to add this disclaimer, however:

“Oliver Ekman-Larsson is a player that we would certainly be very, very reluctant to part with,” Maloney said, “but as far as I’m concerned when you’re sitting with our record…then everybody is up for grabs.”

Maloney left the door cracked open, and Ron Hextall needs to be on his way to Arizona with a sledgehammer to break it down and acquire Ekman-Larsson.

But Why Would Arizona Trade Him?

(Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)
(Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

Oliver Ekman-Larsson is universally regarded as one of the best young defensemen in the NHL. He’s a silky smooth skater with tremendous decision making ability and skills at both ends of the ice. He’s only 23, but has been playing 25 minutes a night for the past three seasons. He’s played at a consistent 40 point pace at the same time. He finished 7th and 14th in Norris Trophy voting the past two seasons.

So, again, why is Maloney dangling him out there?

Arizona’s scoring woes have been a well documented problem the past few years. Their offense has been the 5th worst this year, and have been in the bottom half of the league since 2011-12. In order to address an area of weakness (offense), Maloney is willing to sacrifice an area of strength (defense).

The Coyotes have a number of cheap, high-ceiling defensive prospects in Brandon Gormley and Connor Murphy. However, they wouldn’t bring back the impact offensive player Maloney needs to jump-start his offense. He could trade Keith Yandle, but his value is not as high as it would be since he’ll be an unrestricted free agent after 2015-16.

With the money Arizona could save by trading Ekman-Larsson’s $5.5M cap hit, they could re-sign Yandle and give their offense a huge face-lift. Another thing to consider is that while OEL’s cap hit remains the same for the next 4 years, the actual dollar amount Arizona owes him increases to $6, $6, $6.5, and $7M. For a team with an internal cap like Arizona’s, that’s a lot.

Philadelphia & Arizona: Perfect Trading Partners

Don Maloney
Don Maloney

It’s no secret the Flyers are in need of help on defense. Specifically, they need defensemen that can skate, defend well, and play a strong transition game. Well, that’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson to a T.

Philadelphia has a plethora of forwards and needs defensemen. Arizona has a plethora of defensemen and needs forwards. It would cost a whole lot to acquire Ekman-Larsson, but it very well may be worth the price. At the draft, the Flyers made a huge push to acquire the first overall pick and select Aaron Ekblad.

The asking price from Florida was Wayne Simmonds, Vinny Lecavalier, 2014 1st (17th overall), and 2015 1st. Ron Hextall balked because he wanted the 2015 1st to be conditional. Maloney would likely demand something very similar to move his prized defenseman.

What Would the Flyers Offer?

If I’m Ron Hextall, I would phone Maloney and say the only untouchables are Giroux, Voracek, and Mason. Giroux and Voracek are self-explanatory, and Mason has been a brick wall since being acquired. The Coyotes are stuck with Mike Smith and his contract, so they likely couldn’t afford Mason anyway.

Phoenix Coyote Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Photo by Andy Martin Jr
Oliver Ekman-Larsson


That leaves pieces like Wayne Simmonds, Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn, Matt Read, Scott Laughton, any of the big 4 defensive prospects, and Philadelphia’s 1st in 2015 (likely in the 5-12 range) as the centerpieces of a possible trade.

I obviously wouldn’t trade all of them, and Arizona would be more interested in some than others. The defensive prospects, while valuable, aren’t what Maloney wants. It will be a tough pill to swallow to deal a couple of those guys, but 23 year old #1 defensemen that are cost controlled at a reasonable number never become available on the market.

15 thoughts on “Philadelphia Must Go All-in for OEL”

  1. Coburn, Coots, Grosman, Schenn (take your pick or both) and Read + a 2nd round.. I think 4 + a pick works…

  2. Your logic is this: OEL is expendable because Arizona has prospects they can develop. So you want to trade for OEL using a core group of Flyers high ceiling defensive prospects that the Flyers can develop. Plus you want to throw in Simmonds, Couturier and Schenn. How about the Flyers keep their core prospects, Simmonds, Schenn and Couturier, let everyone develop together as a group and make cup runs for years to come? That is how the Phillies won their WS.

    • “Flyers keep their core prospects, Simmonds, Schenn and Couturier, let everyone develop together as a group and make cup runs for years to come”

      Where do you get the notion that the Flyers have some astounding prospect pool? They are average-below average prospect pool ranking according to most sources.

  3. That would be a huge over-payment. The Flyers just need to be patient, and let their dmen develop. The rest of the team is nowhere near a contending point, so jump starting the fix is not really required.

  4. And who’s going to go to Coyotes games if they trade their best player? Maloney will not do this unless he gets a star in return, and that means Voracek, which ain’t happening either.

  5. The Flyers would be insane to do this with the young defensive core that will be coming up soon. They are plagued with cap problems and adding Larsson’s salary won’t help. If they can drop dead weight like Coburn and Schenn in favor of Hagg, Gostisbehere, and Morin the defensive issues will go away.

    When they free up cap space they can go for forwards because the majority of the team stinks outside of Giroux, Voracek, and Simmonds. I’d hang on to Sean Couturier and Raffl. The rest of the team are essentially fourth liners.

    • Not really. Ekblad has been superb as a rookie 18 year old dman. Unless Florida was confident Philly would be very bad and they would get the early 1st rounder in 2015, I think they made the wise move.

  6. Flyers have absolutely nothing to trade for OEL at all. The Coyotes would need a franchise player or at least two extremely amazing players. Flyers have nothing like that at all. If anything GMDM said this to get other GM’s to talk to him about trades.

  7. You aren’t getting Oliver Ekman-Larsson without giving up Vorachek. Believe it or not, not everybody wants Philadelphia’s trash as much as the Flyers do. If they’re so confident in their forwards and depth they would have no problem giving up Vorachek.

    Can’t get a Young Top 2 Defenseman without giving up a Young Top 3 Forward.

  8. I am season Coyotes ticket holder , if OEL goes so do I , Yandle can go no concerns, trading OEL would be stupid and shows Maloney’s incompetence regarding building a team ,

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