Should the Montreal Canadiens be looking into Oliver Ekman-Larsson?

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - JANUARY 12: Oliver Ekman-Larsson #23 of the Arizona Coyotes during the NHL game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Gila River Arena on January 12, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. The Penguins defeated the Coyotes 4-3 in an overtime shootout. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, ARIZONA - JANUARY 12: Oliver Ekman-Larsson #23 of the Arizona Coyotes during the NHL game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Gila River Arena on January 12, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. The Penguins defeated the Coyotes 4-3 in an overtime shootout. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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The Arizona Coyotes could be looking to make some changes, and if Oliver Ekman-Larsson is one of them, the Montreal Canadiens should be interested.

The playoffs may be continuing for the remaining eight teams involved, but the offseason has just begun for the Montreal Canadiens. That said, other organizations have had more time to get their game-planning going, especially the Arizona Coyotes, as they look to re-stabilize their front office. But it looks as if more can come from this, and it may even involve Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

This comes from Sportsnet‘s Elliotte Friedman, who had an interesting segment on Saturday Headlines during the first intermission of the Colorado Avalanche-Dallas Stars series opener. It initially started with talk of Arizona’s general manager search. There’s been a lot of off-ice drama in the desert with previous GM John Chayka leaving the organization the way he did, and although they’ve had Steve Sullivan take the reigns, for the time being, they want to find a stable long-term person to fill the position.

And then Friedman talked about Ekman-Larsson prefacing by saying he doesn’t have 100% clarity on the situation.

"One of the story lines that’s going to be interesting to watch there with the Coyotes and the offseason is the future of Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He’s their captain, he’s signed to a long term deal, he’s got seven years left (on his deal), he’s got a no-move clause. It could come down to what ownership wants to do too, what the new GM thinks too. I’ve just been told it’s a story to keep an eye on…"

Sounds a little messy, doesn’t it?

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Now, Ekman-Larsson has been one of the players in the NHL that you can throw in the ‘Under-Rated’ category because of where he plays. He’s a solid two-way defenceman with the ability to be physical and put up points on the scoreboard.

Ekman-Larsson had 9 goals and 21 assists for 30 points in 66 regular-season games and put up a goal and 3 assists in 4 playoff games. And as a player who is thrown over the bench in all situations (even strength, power play and penalty kill), he’s a solid piece to have on an NHL background.

He also shoots left. 

There are a lot of things that fall in line with this story. Ekman-Larsson does have a full no-movement clause on his contract that carries an $8.25 million cap hit. Additionally, he’s been part of the Coyotes organization since they drafted him sixth overall at the 2009 NHL Draft. It will be hard for him to waive a no-movement clause and leave the team after being there for so long and making that commitment in the first place. And to make matters heavier, he’s the captain.

That said, we don’t know all the details that are hovering around the Arizona Coyotes. And if Friedman is saying that he’s hearing that it’s a story to pay attention to, there may be more to it than we think.

If there is a realm of possibility, the Montreal Canadiens would be remiss to not look into it. The deterrent for Marc Bergevin could easily be the price he would need to pay. If the Coyotes are trading Oliver Ekman-Larsson, they’re going to want skilled youth coming the other way along with picks, and I’m not sure the Habs are committed to giving up those kinds of assets yet.

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But you never know. This could be a story that really picks up steam in the next couple of years as teams try to stay afloat with a flat cap. Perhaps by then, the Montreal Canadiens will finally rip off the bandaid and start buying.