Oliver Ekman-Larsson is already making a name for himself in the NHL at just 21 years of age.
Overshadowed by Steve Sullivan’s hat trick last night, Ekman-Larsson had two goals and an assist for his first three point game in his career. What’s even more impressive is the fact the he led both teams in ice time. Sometimes it’s difficult to remember how young he is.
Recently acquired Zbynek Michalek said that Ekman-Larsson will be a star for many years to come. With Ekman-Larsson, it goes farther than just points. You have to watch him play to really appreciate how good he is. As stated by Michalek in that AZ Central article, his poise with the puck is top class. He makes the smart play and his break out passes very rarely miss the target.
After scoring at a point-per-game pace in the AHL during the lockout, Ekman-Larsson has continued that pace in the NHL. Although it is unrealistic to expect him to keep that pace all season, he will be the Coyotes’ number one defenceman for this season, and well into the foreseeable future.
Ekman-Larsson is already getting Norris Trophy attention and an argument could be made that he’s been the best defenceman so far this season. It’s early, and even in a shortened season there’s lots of hockey to be played, so to call him a Norris candidate this early is a little premature. That said, anyone who has seen him play will tell you that it wouldn’t be shocking to see Ekman-Larsson win a few Norris Trophies in his career.
At such a young age Ekman-Larsson has already appeared in multiple international tournaments for Sweden. On top of top of U18 and U20 appearances, he played in the World Championships in his rookie season. He was 19 years old.
He’s that good.