Oliver Ekman-Larsson said he did not request a trade and is glad to remain with the Arizona Coyotes.
“I really like to live there and it would have been very hard for me to leave,” the defenseman told Swedish website Hockeysverige.se on Wednesday. “I never really wanted to do anything but to stay in Arizona. I’m really happy that it ended this way.”
Ekman-Larsson, Arizona’s captain the past two seasons, has a full no-movement clause in his contract. He gave the Coyotes an Oct. 9 deadline to trade him to one of two teams, the Vancouver Canucks or Boston Bruins, his agent, Kevin Epp, told TSN on Oct. 6.
“I picked those teams because I didn’t want to stand in the way of the team in case they felt like they needed to move me,” the 29-year-old said. “That’s the person I am. I put those teams there as alternatives, but I never really wanted to move.”
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Bill Armstrong, who was hired as Coyotes general manager on Sept. 17, said he had an open line of communication with Ekman-Larsson, who scored 30 points (nine goals, 21 assists) in 66 regular-season games and four points (one goal, three assists) in nine postseason games last season.
“I think I reached out to him before and had a great conversation with him,” Armstrong said. “I think I’ll do that, and then when he gets back into town, we can talk again. But I think he has to understand too, I was kind of brought into this situation. It’s not something that I caused, so I think that I can explain that to him and I think we’ve had talks about what my job is. He has a job to play and be the captain and be an impact player.”
Ekman-Larsson signed an eight-year, $66 million contract ($8.25 million average annual value) on July 1, 2018, when John Chayka was the GM. The NHL salary cap will remain $81.5 million for this season, which is targeted to begin Jan. 1, 2021.
“I signed because I wanted to be in Arizona until I’m 36,” Ekman-Larsson said. “When this rumor appeared, it felt awkward and it was a tough situation. I had never been in a situation like this before with trade rumors. Mentally, it was tough.”
The Coyotes defeated the Nashville Predators in four games in the best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifiers before losing in five games to the Colorado Avalanche in the best-of-7 Western Conference First Round. It was their first time in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2012.
“There were a lot of rumors that the team would sell and get rid of players to save money,” Ekman-Larsson said. “But it never really happened, and I actually think that we have a very good team on paper. We’re a really tight-knit group and I really appreciate that. We made it to the playoffs this year and I really hope we can make it further next year.”