Did Don Maloney really dangle Oliver Ekman-Larsson as trade bait?

Puck Daddy
Arizona Coyotes' Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) is congratulated by teammates after scoring on Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, in Toronto. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)
Arizona Coyotes' Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) is congratulated by teammates after scoring on Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, in Toronto. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)

Hey everybody, I have an announcement to make! We are putting a 23-year-old cornerstone All-Star defenseman with a manageable contract on the trading block! 

If you followed Twitter on Friday, that’s what it sounded like Arizona Coyotes general manager Don Maloney told TSN 1200 in Ottawa. Instead, it was more like … he really didn’t want to move OEL but would for the right type of trade? You be the judge in this quote.

Shane Doan is not going anywhere. Oliver Ekman-Larsson is a player we would certainly be very very reluctant to part with,” Maloney said.

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

This feels like the scene out of “Dumb and Dumber” where Lloyd Christmas goes “so you’re telling there’s a chance” that Mary Swanson would hook up with him, even though it was a one in a million shot.

In any context, it doesn’t totally sound like Maloney is totally pushing OEL as trade bait for the Coyotes, who have the NHL’s fourth-worst record.

If you add more background from the interview, Maloney goes to the mat to praise the prized defenseman calling him a “terrific talent” at another point in the hit.

Pumping him up to deal him perhaps?

At the moment, Ekman-Larsson isn’t exactly a generational player, but he’s an excellent defenseman who hasn’t reached his peak yet. And he has four years left after this season on a six-year $33 million contract at a manageable $5.5 million cap hit. Who knows, maybe he ends up being ‘that’ type of defenseman after all. Again, he’s just 23.

There is precedence for this. The Kings supposedly made Dustin Brown publicly available during the 2012 trade deadline – just to see if there were any takers. Or something like that. Whether there were or weren’t, it lit a fire under his ass and the team won the Stanley Cup and he played a major role on that squad's playoff run as a human battering ram. 

We don’t see the Yotes going on a miracle run to the Cup Final, but OEL hasn’t quite taken the next step Arizona hoped. Maybe this is a wakeup call for a young player who has already been lavished with a long-term deal?

If anything, Maloney’s comments may not be a deal for now but to at least perk the interest of general managers around draft time. Let’s say Arizona ends up with the third pick in the 2015 NHL Draft and wants to move up to take Connor McDavid or Jake Eichel. How would a package including OEL, and the No. 3 pick (likely Noah Hanifin) sound? That sets your blueline up for years.

Or Maloney could just take Hanifin and do the same thing with Arizona.

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

What to Read Next