It’s the rumor that we addressed a couple of weeks ago, one that seems to have only gained momentum in recent days.
However, there’s been a ton of chatter surrounding Ekman-Larsson and the Bruins today, mostly from plugged-in reporters north of the border.
First, from TSN’s Darren Dreger:
Boston and Arizona we’re engaged in trade discussions for OEL prior to Bill Armstrong’s arrival. Not an easy transaction. Vancouver, as my colleague @FriedgeHNIC noted is the other team on OEL’s list. Sharpen your pencils Canucks fans and try and make the numbers work on that.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) October 1, 2020
More ahead on Insider Trading. Arizona is working with both Boston and Vancouver, the two teams identified by OEL as destinations of choice. Too soon to say how it will end. Arizona may have to take a contract(s) back.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) October 1, 2020
Dreger expanded on these thoughts in this Insider Trading segment (starts around 1:10 in), saying that Ekman-Larsson has named the Bruins and Canucks as the two teams to which (weird grammar, eh?) he’d accept a trade.
Ekman-Larson’s new contract, which just started last season, features a no-movement clause, so the ball is kind of in his court.
Dreger added that while the Coyotes don’t want to do so, they may have resigned themselves to the fact that they either need to eat some of Ekman-Larsson’s money or take some contracts back.
And then from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman:
Ekman-Larsson's list (for now) is believed to include BOS & VAN. Things can always change.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 1, 2020
Additionally, per savebyryder in the comments, Coyotes reporter Craig Morgan mentions the Bruins have been a “favored destination;” Morgan breaks down the league-wide perception of Ekman-Larsson on his website.
Whew...did you get all of that?
Why are the Coyotes trading Ekman-Larsson?
While the Coyotes haven’t quite come out and said that they’re definitely trading Ekman-Larsson, the league-wide perception appears to be that the Coyotes captain will be on the move.
But why trade your captain, a guy who still has seven years left on his contract?
It appears to mainly come down to money, as Ekman-Larsson is the Coyotes’ highest-paid player.
With rumors that ownership has ordered management to cut payroll and further rumors that the Coyotes had trouble getting some checks to clear recently, it makes sense that Ekman-Larsson may be on the move.
Dreger also noted that there is some pressure coming from the player to get a deal done. In layman’s terms, Ekman-Larsson has asked out.
Does Ekman-Larsson make sense for the Bruins?
In a vacuum? Sure. He’s a good defenseman, and with the Bruins likely losing at least one good defenseman this offseason, having a replacement isn’t a bad thing.
However, that contract...it’s a big one. $8.25 million AAV for seven more seasons, all for a guy who will turn 30 in July.
It’s a lot to consider.
Ekman-Larsson would make the Bruins better, but he also might hamstring the team in a few years. Is it worth it to go for it?
What would an Ekman-Larsson trade to the Bruins look like?
The Coyotes, given the alleged mandate to save money, would likely be focused on picks and prospects in return for their captain.
The picks would be especially important, given the sanctions recently imposed on the franchise.
The Bruins hand out their first-round picks like Halloween candy, so let’s just assume at least one first-round pick is in play. You’d have to throw in another high pick too.
For prospects, who do the Bruins really have to offer? Jack Studnicka has to be close to untouchable at this point, but he’d likely pique Arizona’s curiosity.
Urho Vaakanainen may help partially fill the void left by Ekman-Larsson. Other than that, the Bruins’ cupboard is pretty bare. Guys like Jeremy Swayman, Jakub Lauko, and Trent Frederic likely have a lot more value inside the organization than outside.
Frankly, I have a hard time seeing what the Bruins could offer Arizona that would entice them to make a deal, but I’ve been wrong plenty of times before.
What about the salary dump component?
As mentioned above, the Coyotes may have resigned themselves to accepting a contract in return, or to eating some of Ekman-Larsson’s deal.
However, when you look at it, the Bruins don’t really have a ton of terrible contracts, now that David Backes is in Anaheim.
David Krejci, David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Charlie Coyle are the Bruins’ highest-paid forwards.
The latter four aren’t going anywhere. While Krejci has a big contract, he also has a modified no-trade clause and only a year left on his deal. To be blunt, there’s absolutely no way Krejci accepts a trade to Arizona.
The only real wild card here would be Tuukka Rask. If Don Sweeney has decided that it’s time to move on from Rask, that $7 million AAV could be something he’d look for Arizona to take.
However, like Krejci, Rask has a no-trade clause. Like Krejci, I can’t see Rask accepting a move to the desert.
So while the Coyotes may be interested in taking a contract back, the Bruins don’t have a ton of contracts to offload. Instead, they’d be better off just having Arizona eat some of the money.
Who knows? Your guess is as good as anyone’s. We’ll all spend the next couple of weeks arguing over whether or not a trade for Ekman-Larsson is a good idea.
Hey, at least it’s something to talk about!