We know that this National Hockey League off-season is kind of like playing in an ongoing post-season bubble.
The NHL, like other sports leagues, is facing a serious financial crisis – with a significant and negative impact on the salary cap over the years.
Already many teams are in the shake-up queue – the new front offices are looking to make their mark, the old front offices are useless rosters and the like. But the extra cap pressure that most teams face has created a second phase of potential buyers and sellers. Add those groups to franchisees in Completely financial difficulties, And you have a recipe for a lot of activity in the commercial market.
As the Stanley Cup playoffs continue in Edmonton we have already seen a number of deals – including Buffalo Sabers and Minnesota Wild who have chosen to move on. Eric Stall And Marcus Johansson To each other.
Naturally, eyes are turning to some of the big names that are rumored to be available these days. One of them Caught my attention In particular: Arizona Coyotes Captain Oliver Ekman-Larson.
The experienced defenseman has spent years playing quality top-4 hockey in the desert, but the Coyotes have at least a lot of reasons to move forward. Chief among them: he is a 29-year-old defenseman, owed $ 58 million by the 2026-27 season.
The age component is important to this discussion. The rosters are younger than ever and for good reason: we know very well that young players in this league will drive the results Bargaining for large sums, Are very cheap.
We know that the maximum performance age is somewhere Between 23 and 27 years. Depending on a variety of factors (not least related to the capabilities of the individual defender), performance will start to decline from there. Elite players can continue to play at a high level for a while.
Bringing this back to Ekman-Larson, his underlying numbers have begun to decline over the past few years. Consider a moment replacement alternatives to his goals – Regression-based measurement It is worth the player’s total contribution to his team.
Here is what his career will be like:
Since entering the league, Ekman-Larson has shown himself to be a regular top-four defender. In fact, for most of his career he has been beyond that 66 percent cutline, which is an easy indication of what we think of as first-pair quality. At the end of the day, if you pay a player more than $ 8 million a year on the blueline, that’s probably the minimum expectation.
(Yes, you read that right – the 2015-16 season Ekman-Larson crown jewel, where he must win the Norris Trophy and finish indescribably Ninth in voting. Among other indications, Ekman-Larson is a more powerful monster, with the Coates having 14 goals better on the ice with him and easily leading a team that is not good at scoring.)
But general managers are not doing business for Ekman-Larson for 2015-16. Since that dominance period (and the good seasons before that), he has not been an almost identical player.
Take a look at the table below, which shows the flow of on-ice goals for simplicity, and compares some of Ekman-Larson’s goals for that calendar year above:
If you look at the 2015-16 season, his number is very good on the bad team. Most of the players who look like him are other first-pair stars – many of whom are known as quality defensive defenders.
Then look at the last few seasons. This is a completely different story, showing that it is comparable to the second-pair types around the league.
There are many reasons outside Ekman-Larson control. Development of Jacob Chichran Certainly one of them – the emergence of Chichran, along with the coach’s decision to play with him Alex Goligowski For most of this year, Ekman-Larson was forced into a second-pairing role. That means more minutes with middle-six forwards and more minutes with a 32-year veteran Jason Demers.
Ekman-Larson is still a good player. He could also be a very good player in the right situation. This certainly appears in the buyer-cautious scenario, as it checks the most common boxes – the player on the wrong side of the aging curve can usually see a large price tag attached to his name in the commercial market, while the skillful Ekman-Larson set distinguishes him from ordinary suspects.
Before considering the trade the question teams need to answer: Will Ekman-Larson return as he was a few years ago or is the recent version a sign of things to come?
If this is the second, it’s hard to see how the few remaining teams with cap space స్ప would be ready to roll the dice on such a big deal, if he’s not part of the big deal.
Data by Evolving Hockey, NHL.com, Natural Stat Trick