Fitting Oliver Ekman-Larsson into the NY Islanders Lineup

Vancouver Canucks v New York Islanders
Vancouver Canucks v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The search for more production from the blue line seems like a never-ending mission for the NY Islanders. Among the league's best in point production from defensemen in the first three months of the season, the Isles’ well dried up after the calendar turned to 2023.

Thirteen-year NHL veteran Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who was recently bought out by the Vancouver Canucks, is free to sign wherever he pleases - and Matt Larkin of Daily Faceoff believes the Islanders may be a good fit for the Swedish defenseman.

“Consecutive playoff misses be damned, GM Lou Lamoriello remains determined to treat his team like a contender, as evidenced by mortgaging futures to get Bo Horvat this past winter,” Larkin said. “The Isles already have a rock-solid top four with Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock, Noah Dobson, and Alexander Romanov, so they’d provide a well-insulated landing spot for Ekman-Larsson, whose puck-moving could come in handy for a team that struggles to score on the regular.”

Since joining the Canucks from the Arizona Coyotes, Ekman-Larsson has struggled to find his game, totaling only 44 points in two seasons. A threat on the power play in his earlier years, OEL has seen his usage reduced, registering just four points on the man advantage last season. 

While the Islanders' issues remain on the right side with the potential of losing impending free agent Scott Mayfield, the third pairing of the left side of defense could still use an upgrade, as Sebastian Aho was the mainstay in that role last season.

While OEL will eventually sign for much less than his original $8.25M cap hit last season, it likely won’t be as much of a bargain as Zach Parise. A deal should look more like what Ryan Suter signed with the Dallas Stars last summer, at a $3.65M AAV over three years.

A determining factor if Lamoriello will pursue OEL will be if he sees Samuel Bolduc as a future mainstay in the lineup. Ekman-Larsson will be in search of a multi-year deal, which would push back Bolduc’s timeline significantly. 

With one of the oldest rosters in the NHL and a bleak prospect pool, the time to win is now, and OEL would be an improvement on the back end. While OEL’s demands may be too rich, he’s worth the consideration of Lamoriello and his staff.