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Oliver Ekman-Larsson's expected role in Toronto revealed


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Ryan Smitheram
July 8, 2024  (4:50 PM)
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Oliver Ekman-Larsson is looking to help the Leafs get over the playoff hump after winning a Stanley Cup
Photo credit: SAM NAVARRO-USA TODAY SPORTS

Fresh off of a Stanley Cup, Oliver Ekman-Larsson is expected to play a significant role for the Maple Leafs after signing a 4-year deal in Toronto this summer.

On July 1st, the 32-year-old left-shot defenseman signed a 4-year deal with the Leafs that carries a cap hit of $3.5M per season. The Leafs are hoping that his offensive abilities will help take some of the pressure off of Morgan Rielly. OEL's 9 goals and 32 points last season would have instantly made him the second most productive blueliner for the Leafs behind Rielly and he would have led the Leafs' blueline in goals.
Last off-season the Leafs attempted to the same with John Klingberg, and we all know how that played out. To begin the season, however, Klingberg had started on the top power play unit to give it a different look.
Now, after another post-season where the powerplay went stale against Boston, Ekman-Larsson is likely to be taking over Rielly's duties on the top power play unit, which would give the Leafs a shooting threat from the blueline.
According to Jonas Siegel of The Athletic, who dug up the numbers from Natural Stat Trick and Hockey-Reference, Ekman-Larsson attempted 10 more shots per 60 minutes than Rielly did (25-15) and while it may not seem like much, having more shots come from the blueline on the power play can create way more secondary opportunities with traffic in front.
It doesn't have to be a full-time thing, but having the option to add a more trigger-happy shooter to the top unit is a much better way to create offense than having someone like Matthews or Nylander just move into the bumper position. It will be something to keep an eye on when training camp opens, as well as what other changes new assistant coach Marc Savard implements in an attempt to rejuvenate a stalled power play.
Source: The Athletic
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Oliver Ekman-Larsson's expected role in Toronto revealed

Will Ekman-Larsson take over for Morgan Rielly on the top power play unit?

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