Ekman-Larsson will have a one-year deal worth $2.25 million. He was an unrestricted free agent after taking a buyout from the Vancouver Canucks in June.
The Panthers, who lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final, needed help on their blue line. It’s probably that key defensemen Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour will begin next season on long-term injured reserve after off-season surgery.
Combined, those two defensemen make $11 million against the NHL salary cap. The Panthers needed to make an impact signing without creating a salary cap situation where they couldn’t be activated. Thus, Ekman-Larsson’s deal gives them a solid defenseman and cap flexibility.
Ekman-Larsson, 31, and forward Conor Garland were traded from Arizona to Vancouver in 2021. The Canucks sent back a hefty haul to the Coyotes, including a first-round pick (ninth overall) in 2021, a 2022 second-round pick, a seventh-round selection and veterans Jay Beagle, Loui Eriksson and Antoine Roussel. Vancouver’s big swing didn’t pay the dividends it hoped for, however.
Ekman-Larsson departed the Canucks having totaled just 51 points in 133 games. Last season (22 points in 54 games) was especially tough on the veteran, who appeared hampered long-term by a foot fracture suffered at the world championships in May. One thing Ekman-Larsson can certainly provide to his new club as he gets acclimated to his new surroundings, is minutes. He has averaged 23:08 time on ice across his career, and last season, he finished with a 20:10 clip for the Canucks.
Ekman-Larsson had four years remaining on an eight-year, $66 million deal he signed in 2018 while playing for the Arizona Coyotes. According to CapFriendly, the Canucks’ buyout — spanning eight years — has Vancouver taking on 88% of the costs and Arizona shouldering 12%.In total, Ekman-Larsson will receive $19.5 million over the life of the buyout. He will continue to count against the Canucks’ cap hit though through 2028-29.
Sources — D Oliver Ekman-Larsson agrees to 1-year deal with Panthers