Oliver Ekman-Larsson a force on defence for Coyotes

Coyotes' Oliver Ekman-Larsson is probably the best defenceman about which the least is known, at...

Coyotes' Oliver Ekman-Larsson is probably the best defenceman about which the least is known, at least for fans in the East. (Pierre-Paul Poulin/QMI Agency)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:40 PM ET

Antoine Vermette remembers what he was thinking the first time he watched Phoenix Coyotes teammate Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

Vermette had just been traded to the Coyotes from the Columbus Blue Jackets and, like many people who had spent most of their time in the eastern time zone, Vermette didn’t know much about the player they call OEL.

Sitting on the bench in Calgary between veterans Shane Doan and Ray Whitney, Vermette was, to put it mildly, impressed.

“I was like, ‘oh, who’s this guy, (number) 23? How good is this guy?” remembered Vermette. “I noticed right away how calm he looked and how confident. He was controlling the game, head up, just making smart, solid plays, crisp. Even without the puck, the details of the game. He gets there, closes the gap.”

That was in March, 2011.

Ekman-Larsson was 19.

Now at 22, Ekman-Larsson is probably the best defenceman about which the least is known, at least for fans in the East.


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