A young pair of shoulders is about to have tremendous responsibility thrust onto them.
Over the course of the past several days we have heard more and more speculation regarding the future of Arizona Coyotes star defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, a player largely regarded as one of the top 3 defensemen that could potentially be available during the 2019 free agency period. Initially it appeared as though it was only a matter of time before Ekman-Larsson would eventually be traded by an organization that can hardly afford to be handing out big money contracts to it's players, however as time has gone on it appears that is less and less likely.
Last weeks rumors began to surface suggesting that Ekman-Larsson and the Coyotes had started to lay the ground work on what would truly be a massive contract extension and now it seems like Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka is set to pull off a master stroke that will not only keep his young defenseman within the organization for the long term, but one that will also cement the leadership within his organization for the foreseeable future. Of course though none of this can become official prior to the 1st of July when Ekman-Larsson and the Coyotes will officially be eligible to formalize a new contract extension.
A new report from TSN insider Darren Dreger is claiming that there is now a verbal agreement in place between the Arizona Coyotes and Oliver Ekman-Larsson's representation, an agreement that will see Ekman-Larsson sign his new deal as soon as it becomes available. According to Dreger the deal will play Ekman-Larsson a whopping $8.25 million per season over the course of the next 8 seasons, that brings the total value of the contract to a whopping $66 million, a massive sum for an organization like the Coyotes that struggles financially.
The term and salary of the contract have been rumored for several days though so that isn't exactly new information, although Dreger was able to share some new details regarding the negotiations between the two sides. First, according to Dreger the Coyotes are expected to give Ekman-Larsson a full no movement clause, a sign that he wants to remain a Coyote but also a clause that could cause the Coyotes problems down the line if things don't work out between the two sides. Additionally according to Dreger it is now very likely that the Coyotes will also be naming Ekman-Larsson their next captain, it would make him only the fourth captain in the entire history of the organization. For those curious the other three are former NHL great Keith Tkachuk, Teppo Numminen, and of course most recently Shane Doan.
It sounds like the Coyotes will also be providing Ekman-Larsson with a bonus structure intended to protect his earnings in the event of an NHL lockout, although that remains only a rumor at this time and has not officially been confirmed by any credible source. This is perhaps one of the most important contract signings in the history of the Coyotes organization and will likely raise the profile of general manager John Chayka considerably if he can pull it off.
Photo Credit: Keystone Press