The Boston Bruins would be wise to stay away from Oliver Ekman-Larsson
With the condensed offseason starting officially this week, the free agent and trade rumors are starting to heat up as teams try to pick up key pieces they believe will bring them the Stanley Cup next season. In particular, the Boston Bruins have been at the center of one of the biggest trade rumors currently making waves throughout the hockey community.
According to reports, it appears the Bruins are front-runners to acquire the services of defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson from the Arizona Coyotes. While this trade would certainly shake things up, it’s time to ask ourselves whether this trade is the right move to make for the Bruins.
Ekman-Larsson is a world-class defenseman and has helped lead the Arizona Coyotes through a rebuild that saw them make the playoffs this year for the first time in eight years. Since joining the Coyotes in the 2010-2011 season, Ekman-Larsson has scored at least 10 goals in six of the last seven seasons and has seven Top-20 finishes in the Norris Memorial Trophy voting as the league’s top defenseman. His playing ability and leadership were instrumental towards his election as the Team Captain in 2018, to go along with a contract extension of $66 million over eight years.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson would not make sense for the Boston Bruins
While adding a player of Ekman-Larsson’s ability is exciting, I’m not sure if it fits the direction the Bruins need to take in order to compete for the Stanley Cup.
This lack of secondary scoring was painfully evident in the playoffs, where the Bruins averaged only 2.5 goals per game and were outscored 19-10 in their series with Tampa Bay.
In order to acquire a player of Ekman-Larsson’s caliber, it will require assets that I don’t believe the Bruins should give up on. There have been reports that suggest it will cost the Bruins Brandon Carlo or Jake DeBrusk in order to get the deal done.
By getting rid of Jake DeBrusk, the Bruins are actually removing one of their better, albeit streaky, secondary scorers and are actually making their need for secondary scoring even greater. Additionally, trading Carlo to Arizona means that Ekman-Larsson is being brought in at the expense of losing three defensemen; Carlo, Zdeno Chara, and Torey Krug.
Speaking of Torey Krug, it would be very counterintuitive for the Bruins to make this deal for Ekman-Larsson based on the approach they’ve taken with Krug. The Bruins have made it clear that they will not be bringing Krug back due to the contract he is asking for.
With Ekman-Larsson on the books for the next seven seasons at an AAV of $8.25 million, I’m not sure why the Bruins wouldn’t just bring Krug back instead. Krug obviously has chemistry with the locker room already, wouldn’t directly require the Bruins to trade assets for him, and has actually scored more points than Ekman-Larsson in each of the last four seasons.
It’s exciting to see the front office get aggressive with transactions and to see rumors of a star player potentially coming to Boston, but this is one instance in which logic needs to win over emotion. Oliver Ekman-Larsson is an outstanding hockey player, but I think the Bruins are better off focusing their efforts in other areas this offseason.