At least one of the three big 2019 free agent defencemen appears to be staying put.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Arizona Coyotes are telling other teams that Oliver Ekman-Larsson is “off the market” and the team could announce a contract extension with him soon.
Ekman-Larsson, who will turn 27 in July, is entering the final year of a six-year, $33 million contract and can become an unrestricted free agent next summer. The Coyotes can’t officially sign him to an extension until July 1 when the last year of his current contract kicks in.
At the NHL Combine earlier this month, GM John Chayka appeared confident the team would come to an agreement with its franchise player.
“We’ve been very clear that we’re willing to do whatever we possibly can to have him come back, and (we) think he’s a heck of a defenceman, heck of a player, heck of a person,” Chayka said on June 2.
Ekman-Larsson is the longest-serving Coyote and has been the cornerstone of the team’s defence since breaking into the league in 2010. He has 102 goals and 290 points in 576 games for his career.
If he does re-sign, he will be the first of a group of star defenceman to go off the board ahead of the 2019 free agency period.
Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings and Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators are both also set to be free agents after next season.