Don't expect the Canucks to buy out Ekman-Larsson this summer

Apr 18 2023, 9:40 pm

Don’t count on the Vancouver Canucks buying out Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s massive contract this summer.

The 31-year-old defenceman had a disastrous second season in Vancouver, posting the lowest goal and point totals in the NHL since he was a 19-year-old rookie in 2010-11, and a team-worst plus-minus (-24). Injuries limited Ekman-Larsson to 54 games, and he indicated over the weekend that a broken foot suffered at last year’s IIHF World Championship threw a wrench into his off-season workouts.

Despite receiving the second-most power-play minutes among all Canucks defencemen, Ekman-Larsson was nearly outscored by Luke Schenn, in nearly the same amount of games with Vancouver.

That’s not exactly what former Canucks GM Jim Benning was hoping to get when he acquired Ekman-Larsson in a trade from Arizona nearly two years ago. And it’s not what the current regime was hoping to see either.

“He had a tough summer,” Canucks GM Patrik Allvin said in response to a question posed by Daily Hive at Monday’s end-of-season media availability at Rogers Arena. “I thought he was very inconsistent. I do believe that Oliver, with the right mindset, and the conversations we have had here over the last couple of months, that he’s willing to sacrifice to get his game back. I think that Oliver has potential to still be a good NHL player.”

Just how good remains to be seen.

“With the addition of [Filip] Hronek, and the game that Quinn Hughes is playing right now, we need Oliver to support those younger players here. Having Adam Foote and Sergei Gonchar here working with Oliver, and how we changed our defensive structure, his mindset, and his willingness to show us that he’s willing to get back to where he belongs, in the top pairings here. I’m excited to see him coming into training camp.”

No Canucks player made close to what Ekman-Larsson did in real dollars last season, as the veteran blueliner took home $10.5 million in salary. Part of that was paid by the Arizona Coyotes, which helps with his hefty cap hit, though Ekman-Larsson still counts $7.26 million on Vancouver’s salary cap.

Given Ekman-Larsson’s struggles, injury history, and salary, plus the fact that he’s not getting any younger, many have wondered if the Canucks would consider buying him out.

Based on Allvin’s comments on Monday, don’t bet on it.

“My intention is not to use buyouts,” Allvin told reporters, in response to a question about buyouts, not Ekman-Larsson specifically. “I get the support from Jim [Rutherford] and the ownership here to put a competitive team in place.”

Buying out Ekman-Larsson’s contract this summer would serve to spread the pain, keeping his cap hit on the books for the next eight years instead of just four seasons.

“If you do buyouts now, they might affect you down the road, and I just think that this group is touching the surface of becoming a good team,” said Allvin. “So I don’t want to use buyouts if we don’t have to. I don’t want to use buyouts if it’s going to affect us in a couple years when this group is actually, hopefully, taking off. The intention is not using buyouts at this point.”

Buying out Ekman-Larsson’s contract would cause his Canucks cap hit to fall to just $146,667 next season, and $2.347 million in 2024-25. His cap hit would rise to $4.767 million for two years after that, and then drop again to $2.127 million for the final four years of the deal.

ekman-larsson buyout canucks

Buying out Ekman-Larsson would be costly (

Ekman-Larsson’s days being a No. 1 defenceman are clearly behind him, but if he can capably hold down at least a top-four role, it probably makes sense to just wait out the contract.

Can he do it?

Let’s see what he looks like in training camp.

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