Having only coached in Buffalo and Pittsburgh during his seven-year career, Dan Bylsma hasn’t seen much of Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
But what he has seen, he likes.
Quite a bit.
Bylsma had high praise for Arizona defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, calling the 24-year-old Swede the most underrated blueliner in the NHL.
“He should be a Norris Trophy candidate every year,” Bylsma said. “He’s an elite player who may not get the accolades from where he plays and from playing out in the West but he’s a dangerous player.
“One we don’t see much, but one we have to be aware of.”
Ekman-Larsson — who, it should be mentioned, has never finished higher than seventh in Norris voting — is having another really solid campaign in the desert, with six goals and 17 points through 25 games.
Should he maintain this pace, he’d break his career high of 44 points, and be within spitting distance of his eye-popping 23 goals from last season (he, along with Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, broke Nicklas Lidstrom’s record for goals in a season by a Swedish blueliner).
And just in case you thought Bylsma might’ve been blowing smoke in advance of tonight’s game against OEL and the Coyotes, do consider what Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported earlier this season:
One scout for a Western Conference-based team says the 24-year-old is now playing at a “Norris Trophy level.”
“He needs a better team around him, an elite partner and more attention,” said the scout. “This guy is great.”