Vancouver Canucks, Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Canucks Buy Out Ekman-Larsson, What’s Next?!

When Jim Benning, the Canucks general manager at the time, finished his efforts in the autumn of 2021, there was a certain level of optimism in the Vancouver fanbase.

I recall the mostly positive feelings about the acquisition of Oliver Ekman-Larsson from the Arizona Coyotes, with particular excitement regarding the bonus body, feisty forward Conor Garland. For some, the little, water bug winger was the key to the deal, as long as OEL simply took care of business.

Out of necessity, Benning also unloaded what remained of three short-term contracts, belonging to Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, and the ever-popular (kidding) Loui Eriksson.

At the same time there was some trepidation. OEL had slowed down a bit in the preceding season or two in the desert, and giving up a 1st-round NHL Draft pick in the deal, which Benning did, is always met with concern. He also gave up a 2nd-rounder and a 7th-rounder.

Two years later, the potential bad flip side to the deal has come to fruition for a Canucks management group desperate to get out of salary cap jail, as they decided Friday on a big, fat buy-out for the Swedish Defenceman.


Essentially what amounted to four remaining years on OEL’s contract becomes eight years at two/thirds the cost. The Canucks will save close to ten million dollars over time while also hoping for the NHL salary cap to increase the next few seasons.

Ekman-Larsson’s total salary cap hit per season had been $8.25-million. Dude is close to breaking the $100-million mark in career earnings, although now it’ll take a little bit longer to get there, depending on how little he signs for somewhere else as a suddenly unrestricted free agent.

It could continue to be a busy week for the Canucks leading up to the 2023 NHL Draft in Nashville. Do they have the appetite to trade the other half of that deal, Garland, and shed what’s considered a bit much; $4.95-million each season for another three. Forward Anthony Beauvillier is getting paid $4.15-million, but that’s just for one more season.

Brock Boeser is definitely getting paid too much, $6.65-million each for the next two, but one gets the sense public relations factors into not wanting to shed him. More likely it’s simply the case, or at least it definitely was during the 2021-’22 campaign and into last season, they couldn’t find a taker. Maybe now they can.

Canucks D-Corps

Righty Tucker Poolman came over from Winnipeg during the same off-season as OEL and was considered depth on a weak right side. At the time we wrote about the concussion problems he had experienced with the Jets. It turns out they were very real. It would appear his position on long-term injured reserve is permanent.

Lefty Travis Dermott, another D-man dealing with head injuries, saw his contract expire.

Righty Ethan Bear, a restricted free agent, just had shoulder surgery and is out six months.

The five remaining D-men at the moment are star puck mover Quinn Hughes, big righty Tyler Myers with a year left, recently acquired righty Filip Hronek, who should be healthy and ready to go, lefty Guillaume Brisebois, and feisty, locally bred righty Kyle Burroughs. He’s an unrestricted free agent.

Anyone shaking in their boots?

Anyone coming through the pipeline to offer help?

The Canucks need size and balance on the back-end. Stanley Cup blueline corps, as much as the game has changed, are still required to big and mobile. Nasty is a huge bonus.

That’s not Abbotsford Canucks regular Jack Rathbone by the way. He’s Hughes-lite, and hasn’t seemed to have figured everything out. He could be a valuable trade chip who blossoms elsewhere.

End of the day, the charming and delightful Oliver Ekman-Larsson is gone. The work required to figure out what’s next for the Canucks has only just begun.

Recent Of Interest:

— Hockey Hall of Famer and BC Boy Reminisces

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.