Now that Bo Horvat is off the trade market and recently signed an eight-year contract extension with the New York Islanders, the best player rumored to be available might be Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun.
The 24-year-old defenseman is a two-way star who plays over 20 minutes per game, contributes to special teams and produces offense at an impressive rate. He also has good size at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds. His contract, which runs through the 2024-25 season with a team-friendly salary cap hit of $4.6 million, is ideal for teams close to the cap ceiling.
Chychrun going to any of the top contenders for the Stanley Cup would be a major addition for that team. He's that good.
The problem for these teams could be the cost. The Coyotes' asking price for Chychrun, according to Pierre LeBrun on The Athletic's trade board, is two first-round draft picks and a prospect. That's a steep cost.
The Boston Bruins, along with the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings, are among the playoff contenders that have inquired about Chychrun, LeBrun said Tuesday on TSN's "Insider Trading".
Should the Bruins pay the reported asking price for Chychrun? The short answer is yes.
However, that kind of cost would be a bigger gamble for the Bruins than a lot of other teams. The reason for that is the Bruins have already given up three of their last five first-round picks in trades. They also don't have their 2023 or 2024 second-round picks -- both were included as part of the Hampus Lindholm deal with the Anaheim Ducks before last year's trade deadline. The B's haven't picked in both the first and second rounds of the same draft since 2017. They didn't select in the first and third rounds last year.
The 2023 draft class has been labeled by experts as deep and loaded with high-end talent. It's one of the reasons why just four 2023 first-rounders have been traded so far, and only one of them is unprotected.
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Can the Bruins really afford to give up two more first-rounders when their prospect pool is already so weak? After right wing Fabian Lysell and defenseman Mason Lohrei, the quality of the Bruins' prospects really drops off. Almost every other contender has better prospects to offer a team like the Coyotes.
But as difficult as it would be to surrender even more future assets, this Bruins veteran core deserves a major upgrade. Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci signed contracts in the offseason worth far below their real value. Brad Marchand is playing on one of the most team-friendly contracts in the league. If you go up and down Boston's roster, nearly every player is meeting or exceeding expectations. The Bruins are on pace to have one of the best regular seasons of all time. These players have earned the kind of upgrade Chychrun would represent.
The Eastern Conference playoffs are going to be quite difficult.
The first round could pit the Bruins against former Stanley Cup champs such as the Washington Capitals or Pittsburgh Penguins. The pesky Islanders with Horvat are another potential Round 1 opponent. The second round would be against the Toronto Maple Leafs or Tampa Bay Lightning. The most likely conference final opponent is the Carolina Hurricanes, and we know how tough of a matchup they are for the B's.
Bolstering the depth and talent of the blue line would be really helpful for the Bruins as they prepare for what should be an incredibly tough road to the Stanley Cup Final. Chychrun is a top-pairing caliber defenseman in the early part of his prime.
The Bruins don't need to make a blockbuster trade to compete for the Stanley Cup this season, but why not at least take a swing and try to maximize this great opportunity in front of them?