Top Trades and Landing Spots for Arizona Coyotes Defenseman Jakob ChychrunJanuary 11, 2022
Top Trades and Landing Spots for Arizona Coyotes Defenseman Jakob Chychrun
Arizona Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong has been wheeling and dealing since last summer, shipping out players for draft picks and prospects in order to rebuild his roster. On Dec. 15, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported that Armstrong appeared to be testing the trade market for Jakob Chychrun. That news vaulted the 23-year-old defenseman atop our January NHL Trade Block Big Board.
A talented, puck-moving blueliner, Chychrun overcame early-career knee injuries to become the Coyotes' top rearguard. Signed through 2024-25, he carries an affordable $4.6 million annual salary-cap hit and lacks no-trade protection until 2023-24.
Chychrun enjoyed a career-high 41-point performance in 2020-21, leading all defensemen with 18 goals in 56 games. His production is well down this season, with just two goals and seven points in 26 games with a league-worst plus-minus of minus-29. However, that's attributable to the Coyotes' depleted roster depth following Armstrong's offseason trade activity.
On Jan. 4, TSN's Darren Dreger reported teams were calling Armstrong with offers but that the asking price is expensive. He cited one club as saying the Coyotes GM seeks something comparable to what the Buffalo Sabres received from the Vegas Golden Knights for Jack Eichel in November. In other words, a good young NHL player, a top prospect close to being NHL-ready and two draft picks, including a first-rounder.
Four days later, however, Sportsnet's Jeff Marek reported the Coyotes are seeking "a young player, a high-end prospect plus a first-round pick." He speculated the Los Angeles Kings. St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks could have the assets to make an offer. However, the Blues lack the cap flexibility of the Kings and Ducks.
Dreger indicated the Coyotes aren't in any rush to move Chychrun, with Armstrong willing to wait until someone meets his asking price. That could mean hanging on until the offseason, but an irresistible offer could arrive before the March 21 trade deadline.
With that in mind, here's a look at five possible trade destinations for Chychrun and what the Coyotes could get in return. Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts on this topic in the comments section.
After missing the postseason over the past three years, the Anaheim Ducks are in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. They could be in the market for a left-side top-four defenseman depending on how contract negotiations fare with blueliner Hampus Lindholm.
Lindholm, 27, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. Now in his ninth season with the Ducks, the 6'3", 208-pounder could seek a significant raise over the $5.206 million annual cap hit of his current contract. A skilled puck-mover, he won't lack for suitors in the free-agent market if he and the Ducks fail to agree to a new deal.
The Ducks will need a replacement for Lindholm if he tests the market, and Chychrun could slide in as the left-side defenseman on their top pairing. However, they could opt to wait until the offseason to make a trade offer to the Coyotes.
With $39.4 million invested in just nine players for 2022-23, the Ducks wouldn't have any difficulty absorbing Chychrun's contract. They won't part with youngsters such as Trevor Zegras, Jamie Drysdale and Mason McTavish, but perhaps they would offer up winger Maxime Comtois, prospect winger Jacob Perreault and a first-round pick as part of the return.
Detroit Red Wings
Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman is starting to see positive results from his rebuilding program. Thanks in part to rising young talent such as Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider, the Wings are jockeying for a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. However, he could be in need for a talented left-side defenseman such as Chychrun by July.
Nick Leddy, Marc Staal and Danny DeKeyser are eligible to become unrestricted free agents this summer. Perhaps Yzerman will attempt to retain them, but at least one could depart via free agency. It would also provide the Wings GM with a good opportunity to add a younger top-two rearguard.
Given Chychrun's age, affordable cap hit and the three years remaining on his contract, he could play a key role in the Red Wings' ongoing improvement. It would provide him with an opportunity to be part of an improving roster on a storied franchise trying to build its way back to championship glory.
The Red Wings have plenty of salary-cap space and the tradeable assets to make a competitive bid to the Coyotes before the March 21 trade deadline or during the offseason. Winger Filip Zadina, 22, has struggled in Detroit and might benefit from a change of scenery. The Coyotes could also seek a prospect defenseman like Simon Edvinsson along with a first-rounder.
Los Angeles Kings
The Los Angeles Kings are another rebuilding club showing improvement this season. They are jostling with the Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks and Dallas Stars for the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference.
Like the Ducks and Red Wings, they could also be in a good position to offer up a solid bid for Chychrun. The Kings defense corps needs another talented top-four defenseman to take some of the load off of aging blue-line stalwart Drew Doughty.
The Kings have considerable depth in promising young players to dangle as trade bait. General manager Rob Blake isn't likely to part with Quinton Byfield, Alex Turcotte or Arthur Kaliyev, but Gabriel Vilardi has had difficulty cracking the roster and could improve with another club. The Coyotes might also ask for prospect defenseman Brandt Clarke along with the Kings' first-rounder.
Salary-cap space could be a little tricky for an in-season trade. The Kings are pressed against the $81.5 million cap but are projected to have around $5.5 million in cap space by the March 21 trade deadline. If that proves too tight for Blake, he could pursue Chychrun in the offseason, when he will have $23.7 million available, with the cap projected to rise to $82.5 million for 2022-23.
New York Islanders
After reaching the 2020 Eastern Conference Final and the Stanley Cup semifinals last season, the New York Islanders find themselves near the bottom of the conference standings. Their disappointing performance could prompt general manager Lou Lamoriello to make a move with an eye on getting his club back on track beyond this season.
One reason behind the Islanders' struggles is Lamoriello couldn't suitably replace puck-moving defenseman Nick Leddy, who was traded to the Detroit Red Wings in a cost-cutting move last summer. Zdeno Chara was brought in via free agency, but the 44-year-old is well past his best-before date.
Chychrun could address that need for a mobile left-side defenseman. With the Isles carrying $8.35 million in projected trade deadline space, his cost-effective contract should fit within their cap payroll. He would also be an affordable long-term addition. His offensive skills could provide a boost to the Isles' sagging 2.29 goals-per-game, while his defensive game projects to improve under the tutelage of well-respected head coach Barry Trotz.
The return could be a sticking point for the Isles. Lamoriello might be willing to part with his first-round pick for a talented young player like Chychrun who would be in the lineup beyond this season. The Coyotes, however, could also ask for young defenseman Noah Dobson and prospect center Aatu Raty. Perhaps the Isles GM will take that gamble if he believes his club will bounce back into form next season.
New York Rangers
Following three years of rebuilding, the New York Rangers are battling for the top spot in the NHL's overall standings. That could prompt first-year general manager Chris Drury to make a bold, long-term move to bolster his club's position as a potential Stanley Cup contender for the next several seasons.
Chychrun would be an excellent addition to the Rangers' blue-line core alongside fellow 23-year-olds Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren. He could slide into the left-side second pairing alongside Jacob Trouba, providing the Rangers with two solid defense lines.
His contract would also easily fit within the Rangers' payroll this season. With $8.8 million in cap space, Drury could swing a trade for Chychrun right now if he could come up with an acceptable trade offer to the Coyotes.
With his depth in young talent already in the lineup and within his system, Drury might be willing to part with his first-rounder in this year's draft, which could end up being near the bottom of the round. The Coyotes could also ask for a young left-side defenseman like K'Andre Miller, plus a prospect such as Braden Schneider or Nils Lundkvist.
Stats (as of Jan. 9, 2022) via NHL.com. Salary info via CapFriendly.