4 Big Questions for the Arizona Coyotes in 2020-21

Phil Kessel #81 of the Arizona Coyotes. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Phil Kessel #81 of the Arizona Coyotes. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /
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Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23)
Oliver Ekman-Larsson #23 of the Arizona Coyotes.(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

2. What next for Oliver Ekman-Larsson?

One of the biggest stories of the offseason revolved around Arizona Coyotes Captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who waived his No-Move Clause in order to facilitate a trade to either the Boston Bruins or the Vancouver Canucks.

Alas, no trade ended up happening and it appears as though the defenseman will be a Coyote for a little while longer, with the 29-year-old since making it clear that he’s happy to be a part of the franchise.

That is all well and good, but how long will that sentiment exactly last for?

After all, and as we explored on the first page, the Coyotes appear to be a hot mess right now and new General Manager Bill Armstrong doesn’t have a lot to work with, so he could decide to execute a mass teardown in order to stock up on draft picks and really replenish the farm system which doesn’t have too many high-end prospects.

If that is the direction Armstrong decides to take then trading his Captain could be at the top of his list, given that Ekman-Larsson is carrying a cap hit of $8,250,000 through the 2026-27 season, while both the Bruins and the Canucks would probably be interested in revisiting trade talks at the Trade Deadline.

Paying over $8 million a year for a defenseman nearly in his 30’s is a lot of money for anybody, but especially for a team that could soon be a rebuilder and shifting Ekman-Larsson’s contract would not only put the Coyotes in a much better situation cap wise, but it would also get them back a boatload of picks and prospects, which is exactly what they need.

Now, granted, it would be a tough decision given that Ekman-Larsson wears the “C” on his chest and he’s good for 35-50 points a season, but the Arizona Coyotes are at a crossroads right now and trading away their franchise defenseman could lead to better times down the road, even if it does cause short-term bleeding for the front office.