NHL Expansion Drafts: Protecting Oliver Ekman-Larsson

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Mar 25, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) handles the puck as Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) defends during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As our dedicated readers know, my fellow writer Adam did a” getting to know” article on him. In it, he mentioned that OEL was “arguably one of the best first round picks in franchise history, [and he] wasted no time before making a name for himself in this league.”

At the age of 23, Oliver has a long career ahead of him. Since being drafted in 2009, Ekman-Larsson has shown himself to be an asset on this team. Each season OEl’s stats continued to improve. He started his career in the 2010-2011 season with only 48 games played- but pulled out 1 goal, and 10 assists.

This last season, (2013-2014) he played 80 games with 15 goals and 29 assists. He’s definitely not short on talent or potential.

Don’t get me wrong, he still has room for improvement. He still has occasional rookie-like mental errors, and last season, he ended with a +/- of -4.

Yet, the more veteran defensemen- Keith Yandle– ended the season with a +/- of -23, and only 9 more points than Ekman-Larsson last season.

OEL has quickly embraced his role on the team, and knows where he needs to go to be the best defenseman he can be to progress this team into the future. In the end, that is what ‘Yotes are going to need: Young, strong talent with the grace of a long-time vet.

As long as he continues this constant and easy rise, defensively, Oliver could be the key to future success with this team.