Coyotes’ Ekman-Larsson named All-Star

Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson celebrates his game-winning goal in overtime to beat the Edmonton Oilers on Dec. 16.

Matt Kartozian/Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Oliver Ekman-Larsson will be the first one to admit he hasn’t had the type of season he wanted. His dissatisfaction stems from that minus-11 rating he sported after Saturday’s loss to the Ottawa Senators.

But the defenseman’s skill level is apparent every time he takes the ice. This season, that will include taking the ice for the NHL All-Star Game on Jan. 25 in Columbus, Ohio. Ekman-Larsson was the only Coyotes player named an All-Star when the rosters were announced Saturday afternoon.

"It’s a big honor to go there and be around the best players in this league," he said.

Ekman-Larsson is tied for second among NHL defenseman with 11 goals (19 points) with San Jose’s Brent Burns. Colorado’s Erik Johnson leads with 12. Ekman-Larsson also leads the league in game-winning goals with six and leads all defensemen with eight power-play goals. 

He was a minus-15 through the first two months of the season, a source of major annoyance to him. Since then, he is plus-4. 

"Early on he was like a lot of the rest of our team. Things weren’t going our way," coach Dave Tippett said.

"The last month or so he’s been really good, not just in the league plus-minus but in our chances plus-minus. His game has come back to where it was last year, being a good offensive player along with being a good defender."

This is Ekman-Larsson’s first All-Star Game appearance, but he hopes to add to it in future years as a foundation for this franchise as one of the best defensemen in the league. 

"I don’t know if I’m right up there (with other elite defensemen)," he said. "But it’s a good step for me."

Ekman-Larsson previously participated in the 2011 Young Stars Game in Carolina. He will be the 42nd All-Star in franchise history.

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