Last off-season, the Boston Bruins were in an interesting position. Arizona Coyotes captain, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, was on the trade block and made it clear that he would only accept a move to the Bruins or Vancouver Canucks. Thus, there was a real chance he could have ended up in Boston. However, it did not come to fruition and he played the season out in Arizona. Fast forward to today, and he is back on the trading block.
This season was not the best of years for Ekman-Larsson, either. He did not replicate his past offensive totals and was a -17. In 46 games, he scored three goals and registered 24 points. Those aren’t poor numbers for a defenseman, but it is not as dominant as his past seasons. In fact, he is a two-time 20-goal scorer, but is nowhere near that today. His past two seasons make that abundantly clear.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson is 29-years-old, so he isn’t old by any means. He is still a very serviceable top-four defenseman who happens to also play on the left side. This is where the Bruins struggled the most this past season, so they likely will consider trading for him. Yet, with his decrease in production, it does come with significant risk.
Ekman-Larsson has six years left on his deal. It carries an $8.25 million cap hit, which would instantly make him the most expensive player on the team. That is a ton of money and term left for a player who is showing signs of regression. With the Coyotes also having financial troubles, it is difficult envisioning them retaining a significant portion of his salary.
Ekman-Larsson is still a talented player, but ultimately not worth it.
There is no denying that the Bruins would improve by adding Ekman-Larsson to the squad in the short term. Even after his down seasons, he would be their best left-handed defenseman by a rather large margin. In fact, if he had a shorter contract, it would be the type of move that the Bruins should make. By the time his contract expires, he will be 35-years-old, though. Father Time will surely catch up with him by then.
The Bruins’ need for a top-of-the-line left-handed defenseman is apparent, but this is too risky of a move. That is a rather large contract to bring aboard, especially with players like Charlie McAvoy and David Pastrnak due for their hefty raises soon.
Thus, the Bruins should look to find a player who comes with fewer red flags and possesses a smaller cap hit. Time will tell where Ekman-Larsson ends up, but whoever gets him could find themselves in trouble if his production continues to drop.