SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The Coyotes are discussing an eight-year contract extension with defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson that would carry an average annual value (AAV) slightly above $8 million (around $8.25 million), sources familiar with the talks told ArizonaSports.com.
Ekman-Larsson, 26, has one year remaining on a six-year, $33 million deal that began in the 2013-14 season and will pay him $7 million in salary for the 2018-19 season. Ekman-Larsson is eligible to sign an extension on July 1.
While other teams, particularly those in Canadian or large U.S. markets, may be able to offer him a higher AAV if he were to reach unrestricted free agency, the lower cost of living in Arizona could mitigate those differences. Per terms of the collective bargaining agreement, Arizona is the only team that can offer Ekman-Larsson the additional eighth year. Other clubs could offer him a maximum of seven years.
Ekman-Larsson is currently playing for Sweden at the IIHF World Championship, which has reached the quarterfinals in Denmark. Coyotes general manager John Chayka is also attending the World Championship and could not be reached, but he said previously that keeping Ekman-Larsson was a priority and he was not entertaining the thought of trading him.
“I’ve been on the record numerous times about the subject and have been very clear,” Chayka said during the season. “I haven’t had a single conversation about Oliver that has lasted more than five seconds.”
Ekman-Larsson has also said repeatedly that he wants to stay in Arizona and his agent, Kevin Epp, said after the season that talks were progressing in a positive direction.
“Everybody feels good about the way the organization is going right now and the direction of ownership and the direction of the team and its success,” Epp said.
Ekman-Larsson got off to a rough start last season, but finished with 14 goals and 42 points after adjusting to coach Rick Tocchet’s playing style. He has topped 20 goals twice in his NHL career and has at least 12 goals in each of his past six full NHL seasons (excluding the 2012-13 lockout season).
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP UPDATE
— Ekman-Larsson had an assist in Sweden’s 3-1 victory over Russia at the World Championship in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Tuesday. Sweden finished Group A play in first place, undefeated with six regulation wins and one overtime win. The Swedes will play Latvia in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Latvia finished fourth in the Group B standings. Ekman-Larsson has a goal and three assists in seven games and leads Sweden in average time on ice per game (24:13).
— Coyotes backup goalie Darcy Kuemper stopped 12 shots for his first shutout of the tournament as Canada defeated Germany 3-0 at the World Championship in Herning, Denmark, on Tuesday to finish in third place in the Group B standings. Canada will face Russia in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Russia finished second in Group A. Kuemper has started the past two games for Canada. In seven games, he has a 1.99 goals against average and an 87.88 save percentage.
MEMORIAL CUP PARTICIPANTS
Coyotes prospects MacKenzie Entwistle and Tyler Steenbergen will play in the 2018 Memorial Cup, which begins Friday in Regina, Saskatchewan. Entwistle’s Hamilton Bulldogs (Ontario Hockey League) and Steenbergen’s Swift Current Broncos (Western Hockey League) each won their respective league titles to advance to the Canadian Hockey League’s championship, which will also include Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Acadie-Bathurst and will be hosted by the Regina Pats, who finished with the seventh-most points in the WHL. Hamilton and Swift Current will play each other on Monday at the round-robin event.
The Coyotes selected Entwistle in the third round (No. 69) of the 2017 NHL Draft. He had 13 goals and 38 points in 49 games for Hamilton. He has 10 goals and 17 points in 21 playoff games. The Coyotes selected Steenbergen in the fifth round (No. 128) of the 2017 NHL Draft. He finished tied for sixth in the WHL with 47 goals and 102 points in just 56 games. He has 12 goals and 27 points in 26 playoff games.