Nov 22, 2012, 11:00 AM EDT
After his breakout 2011-12 campaign, Oliver Ekman-Larsson probably could’ve landed a lockout gig in his native Sweden, or another strong European league.
Instead, he agreed to join AHL Portland at Phoenix’s request.
The Coyotes’ brass is sure happy he did.
Ekman-Larsson has been stellar in the American league, scoring nine points in nine games — even though he missed three weeks with a sliced finger.
“It’s been really good,” GM Don Maloney said of OEL’s time in Portland. “He’s been really good and the reason for that is just his attitude. He wants to be there. He wants to improve. He’s working hard.”
Ekman-Larsson is the cornerstone of Portland’s young, gifted blueline. Others include:
— Brandon Gormley, the 13th overall pick at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
— Michael Stone, a third-round pick from 2008 that debuted with the ‘Yotes last season (and played in two playoff games.)
— Chris Summers, a first-round pick from 2006 who’s currently serving as Portland’s alternate captain.
The Pirates blueline also has youngsters Maxim Goncharov and Mathieu Brodeur in the mix — all told, the oldest defenseman on the team is 25.
So, no shortage of talent on defense…but with that said, Maloney recognizes Ekman-Larsson is the guy most (if not all) are focused on.
“I’ve actually seen a lot of [AHL] games in the fall, and there are players down there that have been in the NHL that have it in cruise control a bit,” Maloney said. “In OEL’s case, that’s not him.
“He’s out there to help that team win and so other than the injury, he’s been excellent and it’s been good for his continual maturation.”
Aug 4, 2015, 10:40 PM EDT
It blows the Kings goaltender’s mind that he’s not talked about more, so let’s discuss him.
Aug 4, 2015, 9:20 PM EDT
He used to have that role with the Calgary Flames.
Aug 4, 2015, 7:50 PM EDT
They signed him to a one-year deal while fellow breakout rookie Mark Stone got a three-year contract.
Aug 4, 2015, 6:28 PM EDT
Jim Benning follows through after calling him a “foundation piece.”
Aug 4, 2015, 6:20 PM EDT
Assuming of course Bill Foley succeeds in his attempt to bring the NHL to Sin City.
Aug 4, 2015, 4:55 PM EDT
Where should we set the bar post-Babcock?
Aug 4, 2015, 4:14 PM EDT
That didn’t work out for them.
Aug 4, 2015, 3:55 PM EDT
Yes, it’s the inevitable, perennial Red Wings question.
Aug 4, 2015, 3:05 PM EDT
MLBAM will handle NHL.com, Center Ice, Game Center Live and the NHL Network in 2016.
Aug 4, 2015, 2:15 PM EDT
Can Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek get it done, collectively?
Aug 4, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
Adding a wealth of experience.
Aug 4, 2015, 12:22 PM EDT
The skilled Swede may or may not be ready to start the season.
Aug 4, 2015, 11:17 AM EDT
He’s already made a positive impression on Jeff Blashill.
Aug 4, 2015, 10:08 AM EDT
Mike Babcock’s act is a tough one to follow.
Aug 4, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
The book has closed on the Mike Babcock era.
Aug 4, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Tuesday’s collection of links.
Aug 3, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT
The squads will feature players that were part of either organization from 1996-2002
Aug 3, 2015, 9:45 PM EDT
He’ll be fighting to be seen as the team’s third-string goaltender.
Aug 3, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT
He’s already improved the perception of the franchise, but will he have that kind of impact long-term?
Aug 3, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT
He’ll have a tough time maintaining a top-six role though.
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