Oliver Ekman-Larsson's patience is wearing thin.
The Arizona Coyotes captain has stood by for the past week while newly hired Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong has been working the phones trying to consummate a trade with either the Boston Bruins or the Vancouver Canucks. It has been widely reported that Ekman-Larsson, who owns a full no-trade clause on his contract, will not accept a trade to any team other than the Bruins or the Canucks. This, of course, has handcuffed Armstrong in negotiations.
There was some thought that the Coyotes would let things settle down this week and then re-approach Ekman-Larsson next week after the "free agent frenzy" to see if he'd be willing to expand his potential destinations. No go though says NHL insider Darren Dreger. According to Dreger, Ekman-Larsson has informed the Coyotes that if they can't trade him to either the Bruins or the Canucks before the opening of free agency on Friday then he'll remain with the Coyotes for the 2020-21 season.
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The sticking point in trade talks has mostly to do with Ekman-Larsson's $8.25 million salary. Reports indicate that both the Bruins and the Canucks are indeed interested in acquiring Ekman-Larsson, but not at his full salary. Both teams are facing a cap crunch and the Canucks in particular will be in an extremely difficult spot when it comes time to sign superstars in the making Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes.
But, while Ekman-Larsson may not play up to the level of his contract, he's still an extremely capable defenseman. The 29 year old put up 9 goals and 30 points in 66 games with the Coyotes last season, but he's just a years removed from an incredible 21 goal, 55 point campaign. If you put him alongside a player like Hughes in Vancouver or a player like Charlie McAvoy in Boston, there's reason to believe that he can get back to being the player that he used to be.
If I were a betting man, I'd wager that the Canucks either make a last minute trade for Ekman-Larsson with the Coyotes taking on significant salary back from the Canucks or that Ekman-Larsson goes nowhere. Stay tuned.