Arizona Coyotes: Oliver Ekman-Larsson Named To Sweden’s World Cup Roster

Arizona Coyotes defenseman and alternate captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson has been named to the Sweden’s World Cup of Hockey roster.

The Arizona Coyotes other alternate captain was named to Sweden’s World Cup of Hockey roster today.

Ekman-Larsson was the second and final Coyotes player named to a World Cup roster today.

The nod wasn’t a huge surprise. Oliver Ekman-Larsson is considered one of the best defensemen in the NHL.

Still, with a defense corps as skilled and varied as the one Sweden can ice, one can never be sure. Their defensive strength is the polar opposite of Martin Hanzal’s Czech Republic roster.

The 24-year-old Swede has been brilliant once again for the Arizona Coyotes. He leads the team in points with 48 and is nearing his second straight 20 goal season from the blue line. He’s currently second in the NHL in goals scored for defensemen with 19.

He is also one of only two Coyotes’ regulars to be above 50% Corsi For percentage during 5-on-5 play. That is no small feat when you consider the fact that the Arizona Coyotes are tied for second worst in the league at 5-on-5 possession with 46.8% Corsi For.

The Arizona Coyotes would not have been competitive at all this season without OEL. His offensive ability and steady hand on the back end are the difference between being in the playoff hunt in February and being in the hunt for Auston Matthews before November ended.

With the departure of best friend and roommate Mikkel Boedker, it will be interesting to watch the conclusion to Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s season as an elite level player. Will the shakeup bother him or is he able to compartmentalize the issue and focus on the task at hand? So far his response appears to be the latter.

Ekman-Larsson’s Swedish team is loaded on the blue line. Erik Karlsson, Victor Hedman, and Niklas Hjalmarsson are among some of the names joining OEL.

Sweden also has the luck of employing the venerable Henrik Lundqvist to backstop the whole arrangement.

Up front the team will ice the Sedin twins, as you would expect, but they have also included a few of my favorite forwards on the initial 16-man roster.

Filip Forsberg of the Nashville Predators and Nicklas Backstrom of the league leading Washington Capitals are two such names. It’s possible that the 2016 World Cup of Hockey will finally be Backstrom’s chance to leapfrog Henrik Sedin as the Sweden’s top line center.

The Swedish team looks to be a tough out in September for the other nation’s.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson will figure to be a big part of the push for gold.