Friday, June 16, 2023

Oliver Ekman-Larsson Jersey Card

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At times, it's looked like the Vancouver Canucks' management team comprising of President Jim Rutherford and GM Patrik Allvin have been in over their heads with this team, which they took over in a different contending window from when they led the Pittsburgh Penguins to two straight Stanley Cups out of the gate, having missed out on one and now being cap-strapped with key building pieces like Thatcher Demko, Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller, and Quinn Hughes.

Former captain Bo Horvat was sent to the New York Islanders at the last trade deadline, and rumours abounded that the likes of Brock Boeser, Connor Garland and Oliver Ekman-Larsson would eventually follow suit.

In the absence of a market for OEL's contract, however, the Canucks found themselves left with the option of terminating and buying out his contract, which brings tremendous cap relief this upcoming season and the next but will impact the team until the 2028-29 season.

I expect him to find a taker on a one-year deal around $2M to play on a team's third pair when free agency opens up on July 1st, but anything over those two thresholds would be a risk in my opinion (except for a team looking to reach the cap floor, in which case he'd probably rake in a million more as an experienced former captain for a team like the Chicago Blackhawks or Anaheim Ducks, and maybe also serve as deadline bait, as a rebuilding team would look to trade him for a mid-round (third or fourth) pick to a contender for a playoff run.

He spent his best years with the Arizona Coyotes, where he was one of very few bright spots in his eleven seasons with the franchise, twice leading them in points despite being a defenseman; he captained the team from 2018 to 2021 and represented them in the 2015 and 2018 All-Star Games. Here he is sporting their mid-2010s white (away) unifrom, on card #TS-OE from Upper Deck's 2015-16 Artifacts collection (and Treasured Swatches sub-set):
Artifacts used to be one of the two sets I most looked forward to seeing every year, with Ice.