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Rumor: Leafs linked to Norris Trophy nominee in trade talks

JVR, Bozak? Picks? What would it take to get this done?

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The Arizona Coyotes already want to call off this year, and we understand why. They became the first team in the NHL's 100-year history to be held without a regulation win through their first 20 games... 

Star defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larosson, who has been struggling greatly along with his teammates, might want out as well. 

Bob McKenzie was asked what could happen between the Coyotes and the Toronto Maple Leafs during a Wednesday morning radio hit on Toronto’s TSN 1050. And a trade is a likely possibility. 

I don’t think at this point in time Arizona is contemplating anything with Oliver Ekman-Larsson. That said, he’s unrestricted at the end of next season… if you’re Oliver Ekman-Larsson – even though you might be part of the problem right now, and let’s not let him off the hook because he hasn’t been playing well – that whole environment and what’s gone on with Arizona, do you really want to re-up there. And if you don’t, and you send that signal out, then at some point in time obviously he might be a player that comes into play."

What he added will interest Leafs fans even more... 

“But that’s obviously the type of defenseman that would be really useful on the Toronto Maple Leafs. Now the flip side is, as I said, you can always make discretionary decisions to make the money work. But there’s a guy who’s making (a $5.5 million cap hit with $6.5 in actual salary this season and then $7 million in 2018-19). Oliver Ekman-Larsson long term is not going to be cheap, and with everything else the Leafs have to do it starts to become a challenge.

But as I said, that’s where you have to make discretionary decisions. What do you do with Jake Gardiner when his contract is coming up for renewal at the end of next season.”

Gardiner, a former first rounder back in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, could be used as trade bait in negotiations. Forwards like James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak have also been mentioned as potential trade chips closer to the deadline. 

Ekman-Larsson does not have any trade protection written into his contract and might want to move to a Cup contender like the Leafs. 

However, Coyotes GM John Chayka took several risks in the offseason on the trade market, and none have paid off so far. Will he made a blockbuster deal now with OEL? We will have to watch this closely...