The 2022 NHL Trade Deadline is Monday, March 21 at 3 p.m. ET. As we get closer to the deadline we will take a look at some individual players who could be on the move. We continue today with Arizona Coyotes defender Jakob Chychrun.
It has been pretty clear since the offseason what direction the Arizona Coyotes are taking right now. They are in a full scale rebuild that is going to tear the roster down to the bare bones while draft picks are collected at an absurd rate.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Darcy Kuemper, Conor Garland, and Christian Dvorak were all moved over the summer, and more veteran players are likely to go before the trade deadline in a few weeks. Phil Kessel seems like a given. Maybe Shayne Gostisbehere. Any other pending free agent that has an ounce of value. The Coyotes already have eight picks in the first two rounds of the 2022 NHL draft (three first-round picks and five second-round picks) and as we talked about with Kessel, that number will probably increase.
While pretty much everybody on the roster is in play in a situation like this, there is one name the Coyotes should be very hesitant to deal over the next few weeks: Defenseman Jakob Chychrun.
That is the type of trade where, if you are going to make it, you better be darn sure it is not only the right trade, but that it is going to be a resounding win for your franchise long-term.
Not only is Chychrun still only 23 years old, but he is signed long-term on a cap-friendly contract, and is a really good player. He is also having a bit of a down year. So not only do you not have to trade him right now, it is probably the absolute wrong time to even consider it.
It would have to be significant not only because Chychrun represents a great value long-term (both as a player and because of his contract) but also because even with the Coyotes’ current rebuild there is absolutely no need to even consider trading him right now. He is under contract for three more full seasons after this season with a sub-$5 million salary cap hit, and his limited no-trade clause does not kick in until the 2023-24 season. That means they could still trade him at any point between now and the end of next season without any hurdle getting in their way if they really wanted to move him.
It would have to be a situation where somebody gave Arizona an offer that it absolutely could not refuse. A first-round pick and a top prospect has to be the starting point. Maybe another first-round pick. Perhaps a good NHL player (not a throw-in player, but an actual contributor). Columbus just got two first-round picks and a good young player in Adam Boqvist for Seth Jones, who was immediately re-signed to an absolutely massive contract that dwarfs Chychrun’s.
Chychrun is not only younger and cheaper against the salary cap, there is an argument to be made that he is also already better. Or at the very least, is comparable with a higher upside in the future. If somebody wants to trade for Chycrhun, Arizona has to make that team pay a lot.
• Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, Arizona Coyotes (staying put)
Boston was reportedly in the mix for Arizona’s other big name defender that it recently moved (Oliver Ekman-Larsson) but did not pay the price for him. Chychrun would be a far more intriguing option and give Boston a long-term defense duo of Chychrun and Charlie McAvoy that would be elite.
The Rangers should be active for any impact player that is available because they have the salary cap space for it right now and still need more quality depth around its top six or seven players. They also have a deep talent pool to deal from.
Los Angeles would be intriguing because the Kings are ahead of schedule in their rebuild, and while they are a strong defensive team they could use another impact player on the blue line. Like the Rangers, they also have a deep farm system to deal from.
This seems like a common sense target for Edmonton (the type of player they need, who fits in with their core’s age group, and a clear upgrade) but Ken Holland has shown no desire to make that type of move during his time in Edmonton.
Toronto will probably always be a possibility for players like this, and before you say “salary cap” just know that teams always find a way to get the player they want.
Even with all of that, Arizona is still the most likely destination.
Detroit is not a playoff team this season, but they have taken major steps forward and have an outstanding young core. They also have a ton of salary cap space to work with and could build quite a defensive foundation around Moritz Seider and Chychrun if they wanted to get bold.
The Canucks and Coyotes already made one blockbuster move this year involving a defenseman (Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland) so it would be fun to see them go back again. They still need a defense upgrade, and while Jim Rutherford is not the general manager, he is still a key part of the equation and nobody loves bold, blockbuster trades like him. Let’s get weird here.
Speaking of getting weird, let’s get stupid! Who says trade deadline trades have to involve teams in the playoff race? The Canadiens might be having an awful year, but Martin St. Louis has brought life back to the team and they should be in the market for real defensive upgrades this offseason. If Kris Letang hits the open market this summer you can be sure there will be some mutual interest there for a variety of reasons (Letang’s connection to Montreal; his former agent being the new general manager) but they will still need more than that, especially if they move somebody like Jeff Petry before the deadline. Chychrun would fit in to make short-term improvements and also be a long-term building block.
As fun as the idea of a Chychrun trade might be for contenders (or non-contenders) it just does not seem to make sense right now. The Coyotes should set an outrageously high price, and contenders probably will not be willing to match that right now. He stays in Arizona and maybe it gets explored again in the offseason or next season. The Coyotes have to keep somebody and pay somebody even if they are rebuilding.