"It's about accountability": Canucks plan to scratch Ekman-Larsson tonight

Jan 12 2023, 6:37 pm

When the Vancouver Canucks first traded for Oliver Ekman-Larsson in July 2021, he was expected to bring a calming, veteran presence to a young team hoping to find its identity.

Tonight, he’s expected to be a healthy scratch, after skating on the fourth pair today at practice next to Kyle Burroughs ahead of tonight’s contest at the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Ekman-Larsson, owner of a $7.26 million cap hit through the 2026-27 season, has struggled mightily this season, his second with the Canucks. This season alone, his salary (including $1 million coming from the Arizona Coyotes) comes in at a total of $10.5 million, his highest at any point in the contract, per Capfriendly.

His offensive numbers — one goal and 18 assists in 40 games — aren’t the issue, it’s that the puck is managing to find the way in the back of Vancouver’s net more often than just about any other highly-paid defenceman in the league.

Playing in every game so far this season, Ekman-Larsson has been on the ice for a team-high 57 goals against in all situations.

And while much of that could be attributed to his heavy ice time of 20:28 a night, his 4.18 goals against per 60 minutes is the worst among Canucks defenders who have played over 20 games this season.

In the past two games — losses to Winnipeg and Pittsburgh — Ekman-Larsson was on the ice for seven goals against while being on the ice for just two goals for the Canucks.

“We have to scratch a couple players. I think he can be better, but I think there are a lot of guys that can be better. It’s about accountability,” Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau told the media at today’s morning skate. “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 the best thing for the team right at that moment and that’s apparently where I am.”

Puck drop for the Canucks is set for 4 pm PT today in Tampa.

Adam LaskarisAdam Laskaris

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