Across-the-board statistical decline hit Oliver Ekman-Larsson last season, as he dropped to just 12 goals, 39 points, and 145 shots with a crippling minus-25 rating. After posting an unsustainably high 27 power-play points in 2015-16, the defenseman's drop in power-play production to eight goals and 19 points was the main culprit for his offensive slide. With Arizona beefing up its roster during the offseason to align with an incoming wave of young talent, Ekman-Larsson is a ripe candidate for a bounce-back showing in 2017-18. He might not provide a significant jump in the points column, but his peripheral numbers have nowhere to go but up.
Ekman-Larsson was protected by Arizona and will not be available to Las Vegas in the expansion draft, TSN reports. Ekman-Larsson is coming off a down year by his standards with just 12 goals, 39 points and a crippling minus-25 rating. Additionally, his 145 shots were a significant drop from the 228 he fired during the 2015-16 campaign. The Coyotes are assembling an impressive collection of young talent, though, so a bounce-back year is well within reach for their star defenseman.
Ekman-Larsson recorded two goals, three assists and a plus-3 rating during Sweden's gold-medal run at the 2017 IIHF World Championship. After a somewhat disappointing season with the Coyotes in which he managed 39 points and a dismal minus-25 rating, Ekman-Larsson showed that he's still a premier defenseman by helping Sweden capture the title at this year's Worlds. OEL will now fully enter the offseason and look to come back strong in the 2017-18 campaign.
Ekman-Larsson will not play for the rest of the 2016-17 season following the death of his mother. Despite the Coyotes' struggles as a team this season, OEL turned in another productive stat line with 12 goals and 39 points in 79 games. When you consider that Ekman-Larsson put together this type of season while his mother was battling cancer, it becomes even more admirable.
Ekman-Larsson set up both goals in a 2-1 victory over the Kings on Sunday. The Coyotes only threw 15 shots on net all night, but it was all they needed, with Ekman-Larsson assisting on both tallies. The pair of apples snapped a five-game pointless streak for the 25-year-old, who is now up to 39 on the year -- which has largely disappointed owners looking for something closer to the 55-point showing from last season. What's worse, Ekman-Larsson's horrendous minus-25 rating has rubbed further salt in the wound.
Ekman-Larsson scored the game-tying goal and assisted on the game-winner in the third period against the Lightning on Tuesday. That's his second straight game with a goal, so OEL's finally warming back up after a horrendous slump that featured just a lonely assist in a span of 15 games. He's one of the most talented blueliners in the league, but this has been a tough campaign for the 25-year-old, who owns a career-worst minus-24 rating. The Swede won't come close to matching last season's 55 points, and his 135 shots in 73 games are nearly 100 short of last season's 75-game total (228), so there are some concerning warning signs here, but at his tender age, a bounce-back 2017-18 is to be expected.
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