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Ekman-Larsson, Coyotes discussing long-term contract

Defenseman eligible to sign extension July 1, can become free agent after next season

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

BUFFALO -- Oliver Ekman-Larsson and the Arizona Coyotes are discussing a long-term contract extension, general manager John Chayka said Saturday.

Chayka said his top offseason goal is to sign Ekman-Larsson to a new contract, which the 26-year-old defenseman is eligible to sign July 1. He can become an unrestricted free agent after next season.

"We've been very clear that we're willing to do whatever we possibly can to have him come back, and [we] think he's a heck of a defenseman, heck of a player, heck of a person," Chayka said at the 2018 NHL Scouting Combine. "Really believe in him and what he can bring to our team. Trying to get something done to lock him up long, long term. Build around him and really put together a team he deserves.

"He's had some hard times and we feel we can really surround him with the best people and the best players so that he can show what he's capable of."

Ekman-Larsson had 42 points (14 goals, 28 assists) in 82 games this season. Selected by the Coyotes with the No. 6 pick of the 2009 NHL Draft, he has 290 points (102 goals, 188 assists) in 576 games. He will play the final season of a six-year contract he signed March 15, 2013.

Arizona (29-41-12) finished last in the Pacific Division under first-year coach Rick Tocchet. The Coyotes have not qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2012, when they advanced to the Western Conference Final

Chayka said he's not considering trading Ekman-Larsson, and said there's no deadline for a contract agreement.

"Right now we're just focused on getting him signed," he said. "Feel like we've had some good discussions. He's a big part of what we're doing. That's my focus right now."

Ekman-Larsson said after the season he would be willing to consider an extension to stay with Arizona.

"I would obviously like to figure something out," he said April 9. "I've said it so many times. This is where I want to be. Hopefully we can work something out."

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