The NHL buyout window has begun and the first big name to be bought out is Oliver Ekman-Larsson, formerly of the Vancouver Canucks. This was one of the larger contracts to be bought out with 4 years remaining on his deal.
The 31-year-old defenseman was once considered one of the top players in his position but has struggled upon arriving in Vancouver.
Drafted in the first round of the 2009 NHL draft, Ekman-Larsson flourished in Phoenix with the Coyotes. The Swede became the captain of the team that drafted him after the long-time captain, Shane Doan, retired.
Playing in Vancouver must have been quite a transition from the Arizona market as most of the talk in Arizona hockey is about where the franchise will move.
In addition to being in a hockey market, Ekman-Larsson was being put on a team with expectations as well as high expectations for himself being the centerpiece of a blockbuster trade.
The former sixth-overall pick had a decent first year with the Canucks registering 5 goals and 24 assists. His plus-5 rating along with the 10 power play points was a solid transition to a new squad.
Last season everything surrounding the Canucks seemed to have gone wrong. The team played poorly despite having quality players and the quality players fell to many injuries. Ekman-Larsson was limited to just 54 games played.
More alarming was his -24 rating. Playing for a poor club will always hurt your plus/minus rating and Ekman-Larsson has had that playing on several bad Coyotes teams.
With the lefty defenseman getting his payday from Vancouver, he is sure to be searching for the right situation on a team-friendly deal to resurrect his career. 31 years old means he has plenty of hockey left in him.
The Canes may not bring back late-season acquisition, Shayne Gostisbehere if he is searching for a hefty raise after a solid season. If that is the case then Ekman-Larsson could be a great fit on the bottom pairing with Jalen Chatfield.
When healthy, the former Coyotes captain can still skate extremely well and possesses the solid vision to push the puck out of the defensive zone. He can still assist on the power play as well.
Playing in this Hurricanes system as a secondary defenseman would suit Ekman-Larsson well. He could be the steal of the off-season and flourish all while playing with an affordable contract.