We've reached the "hardball" stage of the Oliver Ekman-Larsson trade negotiations, it appears.
The Bruins reportedly are a serious suitor for the Coyotes defenseman, who prefers to be traded to Boston or the Vancouver Canucks before NHL free agency begins Friday or remain in Arizona if no deal gets done, per his agent.
According to TSN's Darren Dreger, though, the Bruins and Coyotes aren't seeing eye-to-eye in trade talks regarding Ekman-Larsson.
A recent report suggested the Coyotes prefer the Bruins' prospects to the Canucks', so Boston seemingly has leverage in this situation if the Coyotes want to deal Ekman-Larsson, who has seven years remaining on a non-moveable contract with an $8.25 million annual cap hit.
Based on Dreger's report, Arizona general manager Bill Armstrong wants a better package of those prospects than what the Bruins are offering.
Ekman-Larsson would fill a pressing need for the B's if top defenseman Torey Krug departs in free agency, and the team has several quality prospects, including forward Jack Studnicka, forward Trent Frederic and defenseman Urho Vaakanainen.
How much are Don Sweeney and Co. willing to pay for a top-four defenseman in Ekman-Larsson? We may find out over the next 24 hours.