It's that time of the year, gang. We are less than a month away from one of the more exciting times in the NHL season. Yes, that's right, the trade deadline is upon us, and with that comes trade speculations. I figured I would start off big here, and dish on one of the more illustrious names that have allegedly come available in past weeks. That player being the 6'2", 190 lbs. Swedish blue-liner Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Obviously we don't play the Coyotes remotely as much as we used to, so for those of you who aren't fully aware of what kind of a player he is, I'll dish on that first:
Birth Date: July 17, 1991 (23 years old)
Place of Birth: Karlskrona, SWE
Experience: 5 seasons
Drafted by Phoenix in 2009 (6th overall).
Oliver Ekman-Larsson is highly acclaimed as an elite-level skater with blue-line instincts that are next-to-none. He is only of two defensemen on his team who has played every game so far this season, and is boasting a second-best +3.9% Relative Corsi For Percentage for Arizona defensemen, while playing against top competition with an average ice time of about 25 minutes per game. A looming concern over OEL is his frame. Most scouts will tell you that he needs to bulk up so that he can improve the 'snarl' of his defensive game with greater physical presence. Luckily for him, he's young, and he's got plenty of time to do this. Ekman-Larsson's contract is an absolute bargain for a player like him, as he's locked up until the end of the 2018-2019 season with a cap-hit of $5.5 million.
The Pros and Cons:
Obviously acquiring a player like this has the potential to turn Detroit's defensive woes around. OEL is the type of core player that you build your defense around, no doubt. He could come in and man top-pair minutes, and do so with efficiency, something that Detroit has lacked since the departure of Nicklas Lidstrom. However, the biggest downside to this trade speculation is price. He's the kind of player you're going to have to give up a lot for. Arizona's GM has stated that they are willing to deal any player (aside from Shan Doan, for some reason) if the situation is alluring enough to the organization. I had reached out to SB Nation's Arizona Coyotes blog, Five For Howling's Brendan Porter (@brendanporter) for a little insight on just what the Yotes might be asking..
OEL is young, has a friendly contract, and is arguably the best two-way defenseman on the team. OEL is also more or less the lynchpin of the blueline corps going forward, so ownership/management is probably less willing to give him up unless the return is a home run.
Here is Five For Howling's projection:
2015 1st Round Pick
A home run trade that would be, indeed. The majority of Red Wings faithful will automatically shout "NOOOOPE" from the mountaintops after reading that, and I certainly do not blame them. You're giving up a 1st round pick, one of your best forwards, a top prospect, and an NHL-ready defenseman. A team like Arizona, who is in complete "sell" mode, would certainly demand a price like this, and it's reasonable for them. You're giving up your best defenseman, who has a sky-high ceiling, a great contract, etc. You have to command an "out of the ballpark" return for him. It only makes sense.
No way in hell Ken Holland makes that trade, I think. Of course, this is just FFH's speculation. The price could be higher, it could be lower. But I'll pretend that KH and Arizona spoke on the phone this morning, and this is what the Yotes asked: I say no. If you could possibly sway them into taking a different roster player such as Tomas Jurco, and throw in another promising prospect, then I would consider it. At this point, I think trading a guy like Tomas Tatar is out of the question for this team. A trade like that would definitely bolster the defense, but it would severely wound the offense.