Ekman-Larsson has reportedly agreed to sign an eight-year, $64 million contract extension with Arizona, per Darren Dreger of TSN. The window for extending a player under contract doesn't open for Ekman-Larsson until the league year turns over; however, it is expected that the blueliner will officially put pen to paper July 1. There was some concern in the desert that the 26-year-old would turn down the offer, which would likely have led the club to consider trading him ahead of the 2018 NHL Draft. Considering the Yotes were nearly $23 million under the cap last year, they can certainly afford to give Ekman-Larsson a sizable pay raise -- especially with the cap expected to jump to $78-82 million.
Coyotes GM John Chayka is committed to retaining Ekman-Larrson and the team is currently discussing a long-term contract extension for the defenseman, NHL.com reports. Chayka isn't holding back his feelings about OEL and wants to build around him. "We've been very clear that we're willing to do whatever we possibly can to have him come back, and [we] think he's a heck of a defenseman, heck of a player, heck of a person," the Coyotes boss said at the 2018 NHL Scouting Combine. Ekman-Larsson registered 14 goals and 28 assists to complement 15 power-play points last season, but it's been tough to look past his own-zone struggles based on the mobile rearguard's cumulative minus-53 rating since the beginning of the 2016-17 campaign.
Ekman-Larsson will represent Sweden at the 2018 IIHF World Championship, which runs May 4-20 in Denmark. While the 26-year-old posted a minus-28 rating on a team chock full of less experienced players, Ekman-Larsson did nothing to dent his reputation as a premier offensive weapon from the Coyotes blue line, as he notched 14 goals and 28 assists over a full season in 2017-18. He's also a mainstay on the man advantage, having reached double-digit point totals in that spot in each of the past five seasons, so consider targeting 2009's sixth overall draft pick in the early-to-middle rounds of fantasy drafts this fall.
Ekman-Larsson scored the game-winner and an insurance marker in a 5-2 win over Calgary on Monday. Ekman-Larsson got an opportunity after the Flames had to pull Mike Smith for the extra man, and he took advantage of it with an empty-netter to go with his game-winner. They all count the same in fantasy, though, and the suddenly hot Ekman-Larsson now has five goals in March. He's closing the year strong and should be in your lineup to take advantage of this late outburst.
Ekman-Larsson was fined $5,000 on Saturday for slashing Sven Andrighetto. Five grand is the maximum fine allowed under the CBA, so Ekman-Larsson is having to pay a pretty penny for his transgression. However, the key here for fantasy players is that he wasn't suspended for his act. That means the Swede will be in action Sunday against the Canucks.
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Last 7 Games
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