Vancouver Canucks to buy out defenceman Oliver Ekman Larsson
Ekman Larsson, 31, was first acquired by the Canucks in the 2021 offseason, in a blockbuster trade with the Arizona Coyotes that also brought Conor Garland to town in exchange for Antoine Roussel, Jay Beagle, Loui Eriksson, a 2021 first-round pick that became Dylan Guenther, a 2022 second-round pick that became Hunter Haight (after it was dealt to the Minnesota Wild for Jack McBain), and a 2023 seventh-round pick.
The Canucks inherited a considerable salary liability in the veteran Ekman Larsson, whose form had been in steep decline for some time, in exchange for short-term cap relief. There were six more years on Ekman Larsson's deal when they acquired him, with a $7.26 million cap charge after the Coyotes agreed to retain a portion of his salary. Now the bill has come due.
Ekman Larsson played reasonably well in a top-four role in his first year with the Canucks, but his form atrophied significantly in his second season. In fairness to the veteran defenceman, he suffered a foot injury at the World Championships in the spring prior that limited his ability to train that offseason and play his best hockey for the Canucks in what's now become his last year with the team.
By buying out the final four years of Ekman Larsson's contract, the Canucks have freed up more than $7 million in cap space this offseason, much-needed relief for a team with the highest cap charge on the books for the 2023-24 season entering this summer. They'll also get a decent chunk of change freed up next year, before the bill comes due in the two seasons that follow. They'll have Ekman Larsson's deal on the books through the 2030-31 season in total.