6 Potential Win-Win Trades for NHL Contenders and the Arizona Coyotes

Franklin Steele@SteeleOnIceFeatured Columnist IIIDecember 26, 2021

6 Potential Win-Win Trades for NHL Contenders and the Arizona Coyotes

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    The Arizona Coyotes have settled their outstanding debts with the city of Glendale, according to Renata Clo of the Arizona Republic, which means they can continue to use Gila River Arena until their lease expires on June 30, 2022.

    With the immediate off-ice matters handled for now, we can turn our attention to the team itself. Arizona is in the early stages of a rebuild that has garnered praise from pundits such as James O'Brien of NBCSports.com.

    The Coyotes have already accumulated a ton of assets, including as many as eight picks (depending on how various conditions shake out) in the first two rounds of the 2022 draft. That's a fantastic start for general manager Bill Armstrong, who has plunged into this organizational teardown headfirst.

    He likely isn't done yet. According to CapFriendly.com, Arizona currently has around $11.3 million in cap space, which it could use to help broker a trade between two other teams. The Coyotes also have a handful of players on their roster who could be attractive to contending teams.

    Here, we've come up with a handful of fits for said vets and teams across the NHL.

Phil Kessel to the New York Rangers

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    It's been clear that the New York Rangers need a top-six forward since Sammy Blais tore his ACL in mid-November.

    Blais will be back eventually, so general manager Chris Drury probably isn't looking to add to his team's core. Instead, he could go shopping for help via a rental, which is precisely what Phil Kessel would be.

    The Rangers have accumulated a 19-7-4 record and are tied for the third-best points percentage in the NHL, but they could use some more scoring. Their 2.83 goals scored per game ranks 17th in the league, but their attack has more in common with the bottom-tier teams than the top ones.

    They've scored 85 times in 30 games, but almost a third of those tallies have come from Chris Kreider (18) and Artemi Panarin (9). Kessel would be an immediate upgrade on the right side, where Kaapo Kakko and Dryden Hunt are currently rounding out the team's top six at that position.

    Kakko and Kessel have identical goal totals on the year with five, but the veteran has a track record of clicking with strong centers. The Coyotes don't have anyone to get Kessel the puck, but the Rangers do. 

    Arthur Staple of The Athletic recently described Kessel as a "wild card" whom the Rangers could pursue if they decide to look for offensive help via trade. They might be willing to part with one of their 2023 draft selections, which, along with a mid-tier prospect, might be enough to get a deal done with Arizona.

    A general lack of sellers at this stage of the season could drive the price on Kessel up, though. Investing a boatload of assets for a few months of Kessel probably wouldn't be a prudent move for Drury, but this is till an intriguing fit and possibility.

Lawson Crouse to the Pittsburgh Penguins

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    While a Lawson Crouse deal wouldn't be as headline-snatching as a Phil Kessel or Jakob Chychrun trade, this is the kind of move both the Coyotes and Pittsburgh Penguins could be looking to make once NHL rosters are unfrozen.

    The emergence of Evan Rodrigues has made Jason Zucker and Kasperi Kapanen expendable, and the Penguins have a handful of free agents whom they need to re-sign this offseason. Kris Letang, Bryan Rust and Evgeni Malkin are all set to become unrestricted free agents.

    This is where the Coyotes and their wide-open cap sheet come into play. Zucker has $5.5 million cap hit both this season and next, but he's averaging less than 16 minutes per game. Pittsburgh would be better off with a player like Crouse, who carries a cap hit of only $1.5 million this season.

    The Penguins have long desired more toughness in their lineup, which Crouse would deliver in spades. He finished last season as the league's 12th-most active hitter, and he has enough of a scoring touch to be a solid middle-six forward for Pittsburgh.

    Forward Travis Boyd is another possible fit for the Penguins. He's gone from healthy scratch to top-line center this season, and he's second on the Coyotes in goals with seven in 22 games.

    Teams can never have enough depth down the middle, and as the Penguins look to get one more run out of their veteran core, adding Boyd as a bottom-six option could be a nice boost. Boyd's cap hit is only $750,000, so he makes sense for the same reason that Crouse does from a salary standpoint. 

Jakob Chychrun to the Boston Bruins

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    The Boston Bruins have a rock star at right defense with Charlie McAvoy, and Brandon Carlo has been fine seeing second-pair minutes. They aren't nearly as set on the left side, however.

    Matt Grzelcyk and Mike Reilly have been pushed around all too frequently for the B's this season, and they could use more size on the back end. Someone like Jakob Chychrun could be a fantastic fit in Boston.

    According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the Coyotes are "gauging the market" for the 6'2" defender. However, he noted "the ask is massive, as it should be for a 23-year-old defenseman with All-Star pedigree, a mean streak, offensive prowess that saw him score 41 points in 56 games last season and a $4.6 million cap hit every year until 2025. 

    Joe Haggerty of BostonHockeyNow.com sees Chychrun as a "Hail Mary" for the Bruins. The longtime Boston scribe wondered if Grzelcyk, center Jack Studnicka, a first-round pick and a second-rounder could be a jumping-off point for the two teams.

    Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk also asked for a trade several weeks ago. Maybe there's a fit involving the disgruntled forward and the Coyotes. It seems like Arizona would want a Jack Eichel-esque package for Chychrun, though, which might be too rich for the Bruins' blood.

    Back in September, Corey Pronman of The Athletic ranked the Bruins' prospect pipeline 29th out of 32. Would they be comfortable giving up what little youth they have for Chychrun?

Jakob Chychrun to the Detroit Red Wings

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    While a playoff hopeful like the Bruins might want to make a move for Chychrun, he's also young enough that a more inexperienced squad could take a swing on him.

    To that end, the Detroit Red Wings immediately come to mind.

    Like the Bruins, they are more or less set on right defense. Moritz Seider looks like a true No. 1 defenseman despite being only 20, while Gustav Lindstrom and Filip Hronek are both under contract through 2022-23 and 2023-24, respectively.

    However, they have only one left-shot defenseman under contract for next season in Jordan Oesterle. He's been solid in a No. 6 or No. 7 role for Detroit this year, but he isn't a legit top-four option.

    Chychrun would slot in alongside Seider on the top unit and provide the kind of coverage that Red Wings fans haven't seen on the blue line since Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski were on the roster. And unlike Boston, Detroit does have a handful of prospects and young players that might be intriguing to Arizona.

    General manager Steve Yzerman has been willing to make moves involving his younger players, including trading Anthony Mantha to the Washington Capitals last season. Would he be willing to do something similar for Chychrun, particularly if it means giving up 2021 sixth overall pick Simon Edvinsson?

    While Detroit will likely fall out of the playoff picture in the coming months, Yzerman has to consider attempting to add a player of Chychrun's pedigree. 

Shayne Gostisbehere to the Minnesota Wild

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    If Chychrun is available, no one on Arizona's blue line should be untouchable.

    Shayne Gostisbehere hasn't been specifically mentioned as being on the trade block, but he would be of interest to a handful of teams around the league if the Coyotes are truly intent on tearing it all down.

    Arizona acquired Gostisbehere from the Philadelphia Flyers in May, and the reclamation project has gone swimmingly. Gostisbehere has rediscovered his scoring touch in the desert and is second on the team in points with four goals and 14 assists in 29 games.

    The Minnesota Wild could be intrigued by that kind of offensive prowess. 

    Captain Jared Spurgeon has struggled with a lower-body injury that kept him out of eight games, and he aggravated it against the Buffalo Sabres on Dec. 16. Minnesota head coach Dean Evason characterized the injury as "not good," according to 

Antoine Roussel to the Carolina Hurricanes

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    Antoine Roussel is the kind of player whom Stanley Cup contenders like to add at the trade deadline. His days of him scoring double-digit goals are likely over, but the 32-year-old brings plenty of toughness to the table.

    The Carolina Hurricanes have been one of the best teams in the NHL this season, and they tend to be one of the league's more analytically driven organizations. That might prevent them from making a move for Roussel, as he's one of Arizona's least effective players in terms of hanging onto the puck.

    Carolina wouldn't be adding him to play big minutes or take on defensive assignments, though. He'd see the ice for 10 minutes per night and be tasked with wearing down opposing teams.

    That kind of hockey can pay dividends during a long, hard-fought playoff series, and the Hurricanes figure to be involved in a few of those in the coming years. A player like Roussel, who isn't afraid to drop the gloves and plays a high-energy game, could be a sneaky addition for Carolina.

    He wouldn't cost the Hurricanes much in terms of draft capital, and he'd come off the books at the end of the season, so his $3 million cap hit wouldn't be a long-term concern. That could leave the door open for Carolina to make a bigger move, perhaps one that would bolster its blue line a bit.

    The Hurricanes could get involved in talks for Chychrun, too, as ESPN's Emily Kaplan reported that they'd like to upgrade their defensive group in the coming weeks.