Re-Ranking the Best Landing Spots for Coyotes Defenseman Jakob Chychrun

Joe YerdonDecember 2, 2022

Re-Ranking the Best Landing Spots for Coyotes Defenseman Jakob Chychrun

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    NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 21:  Jakob Chychrun #6 of the Arizona Coyotes skates in a stoppage against the Nashville Predators during the second period at Bridgestone Arena on November 21, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
    Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

    Jakob Chychrun’s return to action is great news for a lot of people. It’s great for the Arizona Coyotes because it means their best defenseman is healthy and contributing in big ways. It’s also great news for the rest of the NHL because now they can assemble their best offers for the 24-year-old blueliner because he still wants to play elsewhere.

    Chychrun is in the prime years of his career and, unfortunately, the Coyotes haven’t improved a ton.

    Most NHL teams should line up to land him. Elliotte Friedman shared that Chychrun’s desire is a contending team, and Chychrun’s $4.6 million cap hit makes it relatively easy to trade him even with most of the teams in the league at the cap or using LTIR to stay compliant.

    Chychrun is also more attractive to teams because he’s under contract for two more seasons after this one. Any trad isn’t a rental, which means it’s got to be a juicy one. On the 32 Thoughts podcast, Jeff Marek reported that the Coyotes are looking for a trade package similar to the one that landed Brent Burns in San Jose from Minnesota back at the 2011 NHL draft. That trade had Burns and a second-round pick go to the Sharks for a first-round pick, top prospect Charlie Coyle and established scorer 24-year-old Devin Setoguchi.

    Before the season, Lyle Richardson looked at five of the best trade fits for Chychrun, but with new desires from Chychrun and new information out there as to who has an expressed reported interest, we’re revisiting the best landing spots for the defenseman. Let’s look at them now, and if you’ve got better ideas or just want to yell about these, hit the comments and let us know.

5. Columbus Blue Jackets

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    COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 14: Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun #6 controls the puck during the game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Arizona Coyotes at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio on October 14, 2021. (Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    After a surprising campaign last year, the Blue Jackets have struggled mightily this season. They’ve had trouble scoring goals, and they’ve had even more trouble preventing them, which has led to plenty of losses.

    The Blue Jackets have a marketable presence to them. They added Johnny Gaudreau, they’ve had scorer Patrik Laine and defenseman Zach Werenski, and they drafted blueliners David Jiricek (sixth) and Denton Mateychuk (12th) in 2022. Mix in rookie Kent Johnson and you’ve got the building blocks of what can be a good team. Alas, things don’t always go as planned.

    Laine has been injured a couple of times this season and Werenski is out long-term with a shoulder injury. They’ve also been without other key depth players due to other ailments. All that and the goaltending going south have conspired to bury Columbus in last place in the Metropolitan Division. If the Jackets want Chychrun to be part of the solution, they’re going to have to get creative to make it happen.

    Outside of the recently drafted players I mentioned, the Blue Jackets are lacking in high-end prospects. While they have plenty of top draft picks to use in a deal, one look at their prospect pipeline would tell you they’re not exactly in a position to deal many (or any) of them to add a player who might show up unhappy because they’re not an immediate contender and then walk out the door after the 2024-25 season.

    None of these kinds of things have stopped Columbus GM Jarmo Kekäläinen in the past from making bold moves to improve the team (see: Artemi Panarin). But with all the holes in the current lineup and the questionable nature of what they have on the way, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for the Jackets to go this big right now unless they have a great idea of what they’re going to do down the road.

4. Ottawa Senators

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    GLENDALE, ARIZONA - OCTOBER 19: Jakob Chychrun #6 of the Arizona Coyotes passes the puck up ice against the Ottawa Senators at Gila River Arena on October 19, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)
    Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

    The big plans the Senators had going into the season have not played out well to start the year. They are last in the Atlantic Division and have been going through it in all facets of the game. And while they have a lot of very good young forwards, their defense needs a lot of help.

    Thomas Chabot and Jake Sanderson are super players, but taxing Chabot with playing obscene amounts of ice time (he averages nearly 26 minutes per game) and asking Sanderson, a rookie, to play nearly 21 minutes per game is beyond stressful. The Senators desperately need Chychrun, but the question for GM Pierre Dorion is how far would he go to land him?

    The Senators have their first-round picks to use as the main selling point, but when it comes to prospects, they don't have many from which to pick. Forward Shane Pinto is having a great rookie season with nine goals. 2021 first-rounder (10th overall) Tyler Boucher and 2020 first-round pick (28th overall) Ridly Greig, both forwards, stand out as marketable players for a deal. Defenseman Lassi Thomson, the 19th overall pick in the 2019 draft, is getting his game better acclimated to North America in the AHL.

    Unfortunately for Ottawa, those are the standouts, and there aren’t any prospects taking a big run up the depth chart yet. Adding Chychrun would give a huge lift to the blue-line group in Ottawa, and even though Dorion declared the rebuild “done” 15 months ago, its best players are on the NHL roster right now or are injured (Josh Norris).

    The package to get Chychrun might cause weaknesses to open elsewhere in the lineup or vacate the prospect pool. It would be a bold move, assuredly, but one that could cost the Sens dearly.

3. Los Angeles Kings

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    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 21: Jakob Chychrun #6 of the Arizona Coyotes skates with the puck as he is chased by Dustin Brown #23 of the Los Angeles Kings during the third period in a 2-1 Coyotes overtime win at Staples Center on November 21, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
    Harry How/Getty Images

    While the Kings may have some goaltending issues to contend with, adding Chychrun to their current defense corps would help lighten the load on them.

    The Kings have a solid defensive unit with Drew Doughty, Mikey Anderson, Matt Roy, Alexander Edler and Sean Durzi. They’ve also got young guys like Jordan Spence, Brandt Clarke and Tobias Björnfot clamoring to get into the lineup regularly. It’s a glut of young players, but that’s a first-world hockey problem to have. It also gives them ammunition to make a deal.

    The Kings have all their top draft picks the next few seasons and they have offensive prospects to use in a deal if they so choose. First-round picks Alex Turcotte (No. 5 in 2019) and Quinton Byfield (No. 2 in 2020) are currently in the AHL refining their games, but moving one of them to a fellow Western Conference foe might be a good way to be haunted for years to come. Gabe Vilardi (No. 11 in 2017) is healthy and scoring goals at a torrid pace this season.

    Including one of those three in a deal for Chychrun might be a good way to make sure they don’t have to give up much more than that, but it could also mean losing a vital forward prospect for a team that’s both trying to keep last season’s momentum going and ensure it’ll have a strong new wave of scorers to keep it going.

2. Detroit Red Wings

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    GLENDALE, ARIZONA - NOVEMBER 20: Jakob Chychrun #6 of the Arizona Coyotes looks to pass the puck against the Detroit Red Wings at Gila River Arena on November 20, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)
    Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

    Unlike their division-mate Ottawa Senators, the Red Wings have lived up to some of the preseason talk about them making a push for the postseason. As of now, they’d return to the playoffs for the first time since 2016, but they’re going to be in a fight with at least four other teams to get there. What better way to try to cinch that than to acquire a top defenseman to go along with Moritz Seider?

    Like the Sabres and Kings, the Red Wings have the prospect talent to more than move the needle for Arizona. Whether it’s forwards like Jonatan Berggren, Michael Rasmussen, Joe Veleno and Filip Zadina or a defenseman like Simon Edvinsson, Detroit has a lot of youth to tantalize the Coyotes.

    The Red Wings are ripe with picks as well, and some of the prospects mentioned above have a lot of NHL experience already and fit the bill for a trade as is. It’s a lot for GM Steve Yzerman to work with if he sees a need to give Seider more help along the blue line. Filip Hronek is solid, and Ben Chiarot has been fine as a defensive defenseman, but they lack strong depth, especially in the top four. Adding Chychrun would fix that problem immediately and give the Red Wings a one-two punch along the blue line that most Eastern Conference teams would envy.

    Yzerman is a savvy GM and a shrewd negotiator, and if he wanted to get involved in the hunt for Chychrun, Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong better make sure his nerves are steeled for the conversations. With Detroit perhaps being on the brink of being contenders once again, Chychrun might just be the guy to help put it over the top.

1. Buffalo Sabres

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    GLENDALE, ARIZONA - JANUARY 29: Jakob Chychrun #6 of the Arizona Coyotes warms up prior to a game against the Buffalo Sabres at Gila River Arena on January 29, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)
    Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

    Let’s start with the Sabres because it’s their reported interest that re-ignited trade discussion about Chychrun. Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek reported their interest during Hockey Night in Canada’s intermission on Nov. 26, and Lance Lysowski of the Buffalo News confirmed the Sabres' interest a day later.

    The Sabres have Rasmus Dahlin, Owen Power and Mattias Samuelsson to make up a very young but already very talented defense corps, and adding Chychrun might seem like overkill. On the other hand, if those four players make up the top two defense pairs, that would give the Sabres one of the best top fours, if not the best top four.

    More importantly, they have the pieces available to make an offer to Arizona that would be hard to refuse. They have their first-round picks. They have a boatload of prospects including three 2022 first-round picks in Matt Savoie, Jiri Kulich and Noah Östlund and 2021 first-round pick Isak Rosén.

    If a more NHL-ready young player was sought after, Peyton Krebs, whom they acquired in the Jack Eichel trade, is there along with Jack Quinn and JJ Peterka, but the Sabres would be hard-pressed to move them in any deal. Mix in an NHL player like Casey Mittelstadt or Victor Olofsson to go with a prospect and you’ve got yourself a blockbuster trade.

    The risk from Buffalo’s side would be seemingly lessened because it has many high-end prospects, and trading one (or two) to add another high-end, borderline-elite defenseman is highly tempting. Chychrun also grew up neighbors of the Pegula family, the Sabres' owners, and went to school with a couple of their kids. Seems almost too easy to get a deal done, but the Sabres aren’t contenders right now. If they add Chychrun to the group, they could be contenders very soon after.