The answer to this question is of personal opinion, but for me, I’m excited to see what Ekman-Larsson is capable of.
He’s been heavily criticized over the past few seasons, but I’m of the belief that a change of scenery, along with the support of a young and competitive core, can ultimately re-energize the Swedish defender and help him return to top tier status.
Being competitors who were often pitted against OEL, the Sedins fully backed the idea of Ekman-Larsson playing in Vancouver, and their words goes a long way for me. They share the highest of respect for him as both a player and a person, and if they believe in him that highly, then so do I.
Defensively, OEL has dropped off a bit in terms of being elite. But with that being said, he had also been playing for one of the worst teams in the NHL, in addition to the well-know tension between him and management for quite some time. A feeling of not being wanted can have a big impact on one’s ability to play, and the Canucks are banking on a change of scenery to rediscover Ekman-Larsson’s defensive capabilities.
Offensively speaking, though, he’s managed to keep his points per game above .500 (0.509PPG) over the past four seasons, meaning that, even at the age of 30, he’s still a very capable point producer.
With him now being on a more productive squad, I’m betting on an uptick in point production, and if he can sort out his wrongdoings in the defensive end, OEL could be the difference between a first-round exit and a run to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Regardless, he’s a big addition to the blue line.
Admittedly, I don’t know too much about Jason Dickinson, but he is saying all the right things right now.
The Canucks recently released an interview with him that appeared to take place after some sort of summer skate in the Vancouver area, and all signs are pointing to Dickinson as being a well-spoken player who is really sinking his teeth into his role on the team.
"“It’s the entire core of my game (defence). It was something that was instilled in me in Dallas. Every team was like ‘you’re so hard to play against, you don’t give up anything’. I want to bring that to this team. I want to be that guy that brings that kind of mentality and that kind of motivation to play hard in your own end and be just as hard in the offensive end.”"
The Canucks have been lacking a competitive defensive centre at the third line position since Manny Malhotra. Brandon Sutter gave it a good go, but unfortunately, never became the player he was paid to be.
The Canucks have that player now in Dickinson, and he’s going to do everything in his power to give Vancouver a pesky third line that can move the needle. Whether he’s playing centre or he’s shifted to the wing, Dickinson is confident he’ll be the guy nobody wants to match up against.
In a perfect world, Dickinson will be awarded the leading role in Connor McDavid’s nightmares, being the perfect shutdown centre who carries the team in getting past the best player in the NHL.