The Phoenix Coyotes may not know where their future will take them, but it will definitely include defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The 21-year old blueliner inked a six-year extension on Friday worth $33 million, according to TSN's Darren Dreger.
From the Coyotes:
"Oliver is an exceptional young player who will continue to improve as he matures,” [GM Don ] Maloney said. “He is an important part of our future and we are pleased to have agreed on a long term contract.”
Ekman-Larsson was scheduled to be a restricted free agent this summer. He'll turn 22 in July, so with the extension kicking in next season the team bought up two of his UFA years.
Maloney told the Arizona Republic earlier this week, “We’ll pay on performance. We have no problem. But we won’t pay on potential. In Oliver’s case, he’s having a terrific season. He’s somebody we expect to sign at some point and hopefully for a long time.”
Had the Coyotes paid on potential it would have been an even richer contract. And looking on CapGeek at the defensemen in the $5.5 million cap hit territory of Ekman-Larsson's, the Coyotes got a steal, even if they controlled his rights as a soon-to-be RFA.
Through 27 games, Ekman-Larsson is averaging 25:07 of ice and is tied for sixth in scoring among defensemen with 17 points. He's one point behind Mikkel Boedker as leading scorer for Phoenix.
Last season, Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson signed his extension a day before he won the Norris Trophy. Now that he has his extension out of the way, will Ekman-Larsson's season end the same way Karlsson's did?
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy
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