Toronto Maple Leafs reportedly interested in Oliver Ekman-Larsson

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 30: Oliver Ekman-Larsson
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 30: Oliver Ekman-Larsson /

The Toronto Maple Leafs are apparently among a number of teams interested in Oliver Ekman-Larsson, but how realistic is it to expect the blue liner to end up in Southern Ontario?

It goes without saying — but we’ll say it anyway — that the Toronto Maple Leafs need help on the blue line. They may be flying high in the standings, but they’re hovering towards the bottom when it comes to allowing goals.

As such, you can expect the Leafs to be linked to any number of defencemen between now and the NHL trade deadline, on Feb. 26. Talk about a dream for members of the Toronto media.

With this said, the latest speculation actually comes courtesy of the nation’s capital. According to the Ottawa Sun‘s Bruce Garrioch, the Leafs apparently have more than a passing interest in Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

Ekman-Larsson is having arguably the worst season of his eight-year career in the NHL, but it obviously doesn’t help that he plays for the Arizona Coyotes. In reality you can fully understand why the Toronto Maple Leafs are intrigued by him.

The 26-year-old is arguably one of the NHL’s premier offensive blue liners. He has excellent instincts and (usually) makes few errors.

Of course, this doesn’t make any interest straight forward. Referencing league sources, Garrioch writes that the asking price for Ekman-Larsson is extremely high.

The Coyotes allegedly want two high-end players and a first round draft pick. This seems extremely optimistic and the odds are the demands will be lowered as we draw closer to the trade deadline.

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About the only thing which may help Arizona, is if enough teams show interest in Ekman-Larsson and a bidding war develops. Garroich notes the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers specifically, but you can bet there are others.

Still, you don’t imagine any team being willing to offer what the Coyotes want. And this is before adding the fact Ekman-Larsson becomes an unrestricted free agent after next season and could theoretically walk away for nothing, regardless of where he is.

In terms of the Toronto Maple Leafs in particular, the question is obviously what high-end talent Arizona would be prepared to accept? For example, someone such as Roman Polak certainly doesn’t cut it, so would Jake Gardiner have to be part of any potential package?

In reality, it likely won’t matter, as the Leafs will not bite at the current asking price. Along with everyone else, expect them to sit back at this stage and wait to see if the Coyotes’ lower their demands as we edge ever closer to Feb. 26.

Next: Deadline looming for JVR decision

What’s your take on Ekman-Larsson? Do you rate him? More to the point, is he worth the apparent asking price? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.