Garland, Ekman-Larsson off to Vancouver

Conor Garland and Oliver Ekman-Larsson have been traded to the Vancouver Canucks for a bunch of bad contracts and a first-round pick. (Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Vancouver Canucks are certainly swinging for the fences.

Hours before the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft, the Canucks have reportedly acquired defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and winger Conor Garland from the Arizona Coyotes for a package that includes the ninth-overall pick, a second- and seventh-round pick in 2022, and veteran forwards Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel and Loui Eriksson.

Ekman-Larsson, 30, was once heralded as a Norris Trophy contender but has seen a steep drop off in ability the last few seasons. Factoring in the six years remaining on his contract that carries an annual cap hit of $8.25 million and it’s a hefty price to pay for Vancouver. Even if he returns to a somewhat capable NHL defenseman, it’s a lot of money against the cap, even if the Coyotes are retaining part of his salary.

In return for taking on that sizeable deal, the Canucks also got restricted free agent forward Conor Garland. Poised for a breakout with good linemates, Garland has caught hockey’s Data Crew by their heartstrings after scoring 39 points in 49 games last season. With good underlying numbers, he is sure to get a decent new contract, but that’s now Canucks GM Jim Benning’s problem.

Canucks stars Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes require new contracts as well, and those have been top priority ever since their season ended a couple months ago.

Aside from the three draft picks, Arizona got back a heaping pile of veteran forwards, all who have just one year remaining on their contracts. This deal clears $12 million in cap space off Vancouver’s books and gives them some wiggle room to sign their young stars, but in classic Coyotes fashion, Arizona will only be on the hook for $6.1 million in real cash.

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