Oliver Ekman-Larsson Bouncing Back Strong

by Scott Maran on December 3, 2017

Even though the Arizona Coyotes were expected to take a step forward this year, they are once again at the bottom of the league. With only seven wins on the season, the Coyotes find themselves in 30th with 18 points, only ahead of the struggling Buffalo Sabres. But despite the Coyotes continued struggles, fantasy owners have still been able to find value from players on their roster. Clayton Keller has been scoring and Alex Goligoski has been putting up decent numbers from the blueline. However, by far the most valuable skater on the team has been Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who is showing that last season was just a fluke and is right back on track to providing elite fantasy value.

 

Even though he doesn’t get the recognition that Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, and Drew Doughty get, Ekman-Larsson is one of the league’s premier defenders. Despite being buried on the Arizona Coyotes for all of his career, he has been an outstanding offensive defensemen since his second year in the NHL. For four straight years Ekman-Larsson averaged at least 40 points every season and from 2014-2016 he scored 44 goals in 157 games.

 

Last season was a bit of a down year for him though, as Ekman-Larsson only posted 12 goals and 39 points. Combine that with an awful minus-25 rating and there were a few people who were hesitant in drafting the star Swedish defender this year. With an average draft position of 79th overall in both Fantrax and Yahoo, poolies didn’t seem confident that Ekman-Larsson could get back to the 50+ point mark and continuing providing excellent fantasy value. However, through the first 29 games of the season so far, Ekman-Larsson has delivered all that and more.

 

Using our Fantasy Hockey Geek tool, we can see just how much fantasy value Ekman-Larsson has provided. Using an average 12-team H2H Yahoo league measuring G, A, SOG, Hits, and PIM, our Fantasy Hockey Geek tool ranks Ekman-Larsson very highly throughout the league.

 

 

Rank

FHG Value

GP

G

A

SOG

PPP

Hits

Alex Ovechkin

2

86

26

18

7

121

8

50

Oliver Ekman-Larsson

3

85

28

6

12

79

8

66

Nikita Kucherov

4

83

25

17

19

89

15

10

 

Ekman-Larsson does have a bit of an advantage over other players since he’s played in 28 games already, but he’s made the most of it, being ranked as the third most valuable skater in our sample league, right behind Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos. His 18 points in 28 games puts him on pace to end the year with 53 in total while he’s on track to come close to the 20-goal mark. Ekman-Larsson’s point totals are the main reason why he’s so valuable, as he’s the 10th highest scoring defenseman and has the third most goals by any defender.

 

However, what elevates Ekman-Larsson to the top of the group is the fantasy value he provides in his peripherals. He has the 26th most shots on goal by any skater and has put the 5th most shots on goal by any defender in the league. He also has the 21st most hits in the league and is only one of three players to have at least 15 points and more than 60 hits.

 

Ekman-Larsson’s plus/minus numbers are still awful this season (so be careful if your league counts that category) but besides that, he’s been delivering to the lucky owners who grabbed him while they could. He’s right back on track for another 50+ point season and should provide plenty of fantasy value for the rest of the season.

 

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