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Canucks buy out Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s contract, making the defenseman an unrestricted free agent

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Vancouver Canucks

Jan 24, 2023; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) awaits the start of play against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Vancouver Canucks bought out Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s contract, making the 31-year-old Swedish defenseman an unrestricted free agent July 1.

Vancouver said it agreed to pay Ekman-Larsson $19.33 million, spread over the next eight years to reduce its salary-cap hit. Ekman-Larsson had four years and $29 million remaining on the eight-year, $66 million contract he signed with Arizona in 2018.

“The business of hockey is very complex and tough decisions have to be made if you want to remain competitive,” Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said. “Buying out Oliver gives us a lot more flexibility and cap space the next couple of years and significantly reduces his hit in the subsequent season.”

The Canucks acquired the former Arizona captain and forward Conor Garland in a July 2021 trade with the Coyotes.

Ekman-Larsson had two goals and 20 assists in 54 games for the Canucks last season, missing the final 27 games because of an ankle injury. In 902 games in 13 seasons with the Coyotes and Canucks, he has 135 goals and 304 assists.