‘I mean, it’s about accountability. It’s about a lot of things.’
That’s how the Vancouver Canucks Coach Bruce Boudreau responded when asked about the future of defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
The Swede was spotted as part of the fourth defence pairing during training for Thursday night’s game against Tampa Bay Lightning. Quickly speculation of his scratching was raised with Boudreau and he responded that it was ‘potentially true’.
‘Look, we have to scratch a couple players. I think he can be better, but I think there’s a lot of guys that can be better.
‘I mean, it’s about accountability. It’s about a lot of things.
‘It’s something you don’t want to do. He’s arguably our best defenceman, but sometimes you just have to do what you think is best for the team at that moment — and that’s apparently where I am.’ Boudreau said.
Ekman-Larsson would not play against Lightning and the subsequent 5 – 4 defeat which handed the Canucks their 21st loss and the 3rd in a recent skid of games.
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Boudreau is not afraid to scratch players and the potential ridding of Ekman-Larsson may well be a classic case of seeing poor performance and removing elements which aren’t working and costing a lot to keep.
His performance with Canucks in 2022/23 in the past 40 games has seen him score one, collect 18 assists and 19 points.
That isn’t bad given his performance last year. In 2021/22, he smashed in 5 goals, collected 29 points and 24 assists across the season.
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As for financials; Cap Friendly states that the Swede’s salary is $10.5M and his cap for 2022/23 is $8.25M.
Then you add in that this season is the Canucks’ worst ever in the franchise. They opened 2022/23 with a 7-game skid and have barely managed to break a personal best of 3 wins in a row since October last year.
Take the two past games against the Winnipeg Jets and Pittsburgh Penguins. The defencemen was on the ice for both games, which saw the Canucks lose by 7 in the former and 5 in the latter.
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It’s not been an easy season for the Swede but with the situation the Canucks are in with the first half of the season and the amount they are paying to keep him, it gives the impression that he’s an over-paid defencemen that can’t deliver.
If Ekman-Larsson is scratched, where could he go?
It could be that he tries to get back into the Arizona Coyotes. He was initially drafted to the NHL in 2010 to play with the Coyotes, a team he’s performed far better with.