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Behind The Bench: Oliver Ekman-Larsson

by on 09/15/2011

Vitals

Born: Karlskrona, SWE
Birth date: July 17, 1991
Height: 6’2” (188 cm)
Weight: 190 lbs (86 kg)
Position: Defense
Shoots: Left
NHL Draft: 6th overall by the Phoenix Coyotes in 2009
NHL Team: Phoenix Coyotes
Jersey No.: #23
National Team: Sweden
NHL Contract: 12/13
Cap Hit: $1,750,000

History

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, OEL, spent the 2008-09 season with Leksands IF of the Allsvenskan. He played 39 games and picked up 17 points. The most points by anyone 18 and under. On top of his 17 points, he had a league’s best +44 rating. OEL represented Team Sweden at the U18 World Junior Tournament, playing on the top defensive pairing. OEL recorded 2 goals and 6 assists in 6 WJC-18 games and helped Sweden to a fifth place finish. After a successful season, OEL was ranked 4th among all European skaters by Central Scouting. The Phoenix Coyotes selected OEL 6th overall. He was the second defenseman selected in the 2009 draft.

OEL stayed in Leksands for 2009-10 season. He played 52 games with the club, scoring 11 goals and adding 22 assists. OEL represented Team Sweden at the U20 World Junior Tournament, recording 2 goals and 3 assists in 6 games. With OEL’s help, Sweden finished the tournament with a bronze medal. On May 24, 2010, the Phoenix Coyotes signed OEL to a three-year entry level contract.

OEL made the Phoenix lineup out of training camp but struggled at times and was sent down to the AHL, to play top minutes with the San Antonio Rampage to adjust to the North American style. OEL split his rookie season between Phoenix and San Antonio. He played 15 games for the Rampage and recorded 3 goals and 7 assists. With Phoenix, he played 48 games, recorded 1 goal and 11 assists.

Talent Analysis

Pros

  • All-round defender
  • Makes few mistakes with and without the puck
  • Good size and projectable frame
  • Great offensive and defensive instincts
  • Plays a safe defensive game
  • Very active stick, good poke-checker
  • Very calm and extremely poised
  • High hockey IQ and strong hockey sense
  • Tremendous mobility
  • Gifted skater
  • Talented playmaker from the backend
  • Accurate wrist shot from the point

Cons

  • Needs to be more physical in his own zone
  • Improve his slap shot from the point
  • Needs to bulk up and increase his strength

Future

The Phoenix Coyotes are expecting OEL to step up next season and fill in for Ed Jovanovski on the backend and he should have no problem. Although he split the season between the NHL and AHL, there’s no reason to believe he won’t step in next season and make an immediate impact. OEL was only sent to the minors because the Coyotes had several defensemen on 1-way contracts and it was best for OEL’s development to have him playing top minutes in the AHL instead of sitting in the press box.

OEL has the potential to be an elite defender in the NHL and it won’t take him long to reach that level of play. OEL is an offensive, puck-moving defender with the ability to put up 55-65 points a season without being a liability in his own zone. While he’s stuck behind Keith Yandle on the Coyotes depth chart, he’ll likely won’t produce those numbers but will hover around the 35-to-40 point mark until he becomes Phoenix’s number one rearguard and receives first unit power play time.

When OEL does become the Coyotes number 1 defender, expect him to put up 10+ goals a season and become a perennial 60-point defender. He’ll likely put up a few 70 and 75 point seasons when he reaches his prime.

NHL Highlights

  • Drafted 6th overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft
  • 1st NHL Game Played – October 9th, 2010 vs. Boston Bruins (5-2 W)
  • 1st NHL Point – October 23rd, 2010 vs. Carolina Hurricanes (Assist)
  • 1st NHL Goal – January 17th, 2011 vs. San Jose Sharks
  • 1st NHL Assist – October 23rd, 2010 vs. Carolina Hurricanes

Career Highlights

  • 2007-08 TV-Pucken Best Defenseman
  • 2007-08 TV-Pucken Champion
  • 2008-09 Allsvenskan Best Plus/Minus
  • 2008-09 Allsvenskan Most Points by U18 Junior (17)
  • 2009-10 U20 WJC Bronze Medal
  • 2009-10 WJC Top 3 Player on Team Sweden
  • 2009-10 World Championship Bronze Medal
  • 2010-11 World Championship Silver Medal

Career Stats

AHL: 15 GP, 3 G, 7 A, 10 Pts
Allsvenskan:
81 GP, 12 G, 32 A, 44 Pts
Allsvenskan Playoffs:
18 GP, 4 G, 6 A, 10 Pts
Division 1:
27 GP, 3 G, 5 A, 8 Pts
International:
20 GP, 3 G, 6 A, 9 Pts
International-Jr:
58 GP, 16 G, 20 A, 36 Pts
J18 Allsvenskan:
17 GP, 1 G, 4 A, 5 Pts
J18 Elit:
18 GP, 1 G, 2 A, 3 Pts
J20 Elit:
8 GP, 2 G, 4 A, 6 Pts
NHL:
48 GP, 1 G, 10 A, 11 Pts
TV-Pucken:
8 GP, 4 G, 3 A, 7 Pts
WC:
16 GP, 2 G, 5 A, 7 Pts
WJC-18:
6 GP, 2 G, 6 A, 8 Pts
WJC-20:
6 GP, 2 G, 3 A, 5 Pts

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