Not much – if anything – is a given in the Coyotes’ almost four-year existence without ownership. Even normal protocol, like re-signing players, is challenged. The Coyotes would have had a stranglehold on franchise defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s rights once his current contract expires at the conclusion of this season as all teams do once their players reach restricted free agency. But a tame budget regulated by the NHL would have made Ekman-Larsson an easy target for an offer sheet from other teams. That threat was enough to fast-track negotiations with Ekman-Larsson’s camp that eventually ended Friday in a six-year extension worth $33 million, positioning Ekman-Larsson as the cornerstone of this Coyotes blue line. “Why wait and risk it when we could structure something that works for us,” General Manager Don Maloney said. “As far as I’m concerned, a win-win for everybody. He gets a really good contract, and we lock up a very good player for some time.” Talks on a new deal started in the off-season, before the lockout, but the Coyotes were interested to see the parameters of the new collective bargaining agreement. Once that was settled, communication resumed but didn’t peak until about a month ago – especially after the Calgary Flames sent an offer sheet to Colorado forward Ryan O’Reilly, who had been in a contract dispute with the Avalanche. That stalemate ended when the Avalanche decided to match the terms of the deal but if they didn’t, they would have lost O’Reilly to the Flames for an exchange of draft picks. “When the offer sheet came out on Ryan O’Reilly, it really put us into override to a degree in the sense that we just felt we’re potentially vulnerable to an offer sheet in the off-season given our situation and we thought if we can get a deal that makes sense to us then looking at where he is now and anticipating where he’ll be in the next few years, then we need to do it,” Maloney said.
Ekman-Larsson agrees to a 6-year contract extension with Coyotes
Arizona Republic | Mar 16