The Arizona Coyotes start the 2022-23 NHL season with low expectations and one of the top trade targets on their roster.
A good amount of talk surrounding Arizona in the early stages of the 2022-23 campaign will be about the status of defenseman Jakob Chychrun.
Arizona is reportedly taking the patient approach with Chychrun, who is working his way back from a wrist operation that he underwent in the offseason.
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman outlined the current situation with Chychrun and the Coyotes on the 32 Thoughts podcast.
"I think the plan is he'll resume skating with Arizona in the next week," Friedman said. "He hasn't skated with them yet. Arizona is on a trip. I think when they get back the hope is he will start skating with them."
"I always worry in this business because things change with one phone call. Everything I'm hearing right now is it's a little premature to say anything is happening right away. He's going to start skating. There's been a lot of rumors around Chychrun. I understand the player would like this to be over. I really do. I can understand that. The Coyotes are willing to be a bit more patient. I think teams want to see him healthy. It can always change with one phone call. I've heard it's a bit quiet right now."
TSN's Darren Dreger broke down what could go into any deal with Arizona for Chychrun:
"Some say that the Coyotes have softened to some degree at least in their expected return and are more willing now to take on a contract or contracts. Granted, you've got to have a first-round draft pick, you've got to have a prospect involved in all of this, so the ask is still high."
Dreger mentioned the Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets as some of the teams interested in acquiring Chychrun.
The 24-year-old defenseman does not become an unrestricted free agent until 2025, so Arizona is well within its rights of setting a price for one of its most prized assets.
Chychrun can provide offensive help on the blue line to any team he lands with. He scored 37 goals and chipped in 51 assists over the last three seasons.
Chychrun and the Coyotes should try to accelerate the trade process once he gets back on the ice so that both sides can move on from the situation and not let trade rumors linger for the next few months.
Arizona is not expected to be competitive in the Western Conference, and it should allow some of its younger and more inexperienced players to take the ice in Chychrun's spot after a trade goes down.
The last thing a struggling franchise wants to do is put a ton of resources into a player who is on the way out. Chychrun could use a move early on in the season so the speculation does not weigh on him and affect his production from the blue line, which, in turn, could hurt his trade value.
The Coyotes could demand a first-round pick and prospects in return for Chychrun. They should try to get the most out of a deal for a 24-year-old defenseman who is under contract for the next two seasons.
The needs of teams across the league could also change in the coming weeks. All it takes is one injury or a sluggish start to the season and a general manager may be more willing to make a deal than he was a week ago.
Arizona should not take the first offer and run with it, but it needs to work in the best interest of all parties when finding a trade partner. Letting the situation linger into January or February does no good for anyone.
Arizona wants to get on with developing its young core around Clayton Keller, and Chychrun wants to play plenty of meaningful minutes for a Stanley Cup contender. An early trade would also allow Chychrun to develop chemistry with his new teammates and allow him to succeed for a longer portion of the season.
Trade negotiations do not always work out perfectly for team and player, but Chychrun is not needed for Arizona's rebuild, and the Coyotes could use the trade to set the market for other trades they may make over the next few months.
Once Chychrun is healthy, the Coyotes should try to accelerate their trade talks, that way everyone can move on from the situation and focus on the other goals set by the team and player for the 2022-23 campaign.