Oliver Ekman-Larsson is one of the more exciting players to watch on the Arizona Coyotes as the seasons go on. Since his second season in the NHL, he has been extremely consistent. His first season, at 19, is the only exception. He had 1-10-11 in 48 games with 15:02 of average ice time and 50 shots on goal.
Ekman-Larsson has worked his way up to being the top pairing defensemen of the future of the Coyotes since that first season. His ice time grew as his talent started to show. In the 2011-12 season, he helped the Coyotes get into the playoffs and into the Western Conference Final that season.
In his second, third, and fourth season, his fancier stats speak for themselves. In 2011-12 he was at 52.1 percent Corsi For in all situations (CF percent). (Having a CF percent over 50 means that the team was controlling the puck more often than not when this was on the ice.) In 2012-13, in 48 games, he had a 50.3 percent. His lowest year was 2013-14 at 49.6 percent.
He started to become even more consistent in the last two seasons. He has been the top pair defenseman for three seasons and has been paired with a veteran and less experienced defensemen. In the 2014-15 season he recorded a 51.6 CF percent in a season where the Coyotes were second worst in the league.
He was the shining spot that season for many reasons, including his 23 goals. So far this season he is at a 51.2 CF percent and that will likely trend up as the Coyotes make a push for the playoffs.
He’s also pretty clutch. Ekman-Larsson is the go to man on the power play. For being a defenseman, he has some pretty high numbers when it comes to game winning goals and overtime game winning goals.
But what does this all mean?
Ekman-Larsson is a bright shining spot for the Coyotes every season. He has grown into a budding elite defenseman by the age of 21. He is on the ice against the league’s best players, frustrating them when they cannot produce.
He’s only 24 and will only be getting better. As of now he is projected for 23 goals again and a career high in points of 58.
Ekman-Larsson seems to be the future of the Coyotes, a defensive core built around him. They are a mix of stable veterans (Zbynek Michalek and Nicklas Grossmann) and young defensemen who are up and coming (Connor Murphy, Etc).
To understand the full score of Ekman-Larsson’s skill, I recommend watching a full Coyotes game and paying attention to him.
Once you see 23 in action, you’ll understand why the Coyotes fans believe he is worth the Norris Nomination and win. Until then, watch him grow and frustrate your favorite elite forwards.