The massive COVID-19-related postponement of NHL games in December gave way to an extended holiday break, which gave way to the withdrawal of NHL players from the 2022 Olympics, which gave way to the 2021-22 season being postponed on consecutive days in January Next recovery. The pandemic is sure to suck away the fun and intrigue of sports, right? Shh.
But maybe the team is finally happy with the playoffs this season. They start taking stock of where they stand in the standings, and the trade rumor mill starts churning again. Last week was our first trade of the 2022 calendar year, when the Chicago Blackhawks sold off-prospect left wing Alex Nyland for a low price, kicking him to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a one-on-one exchange for center Sam. Rafferty. Speculation about potentially available big-name assets has also begun.
Indeed, when it comes to defenseman Jakob Chychrun, the Arizona Coyotes started to make a splash a few months ago when Chychrun’s performance plummeted down the standings. Even in September 2021, the idea of having him on the field seems absurd.Last season, he led all NHL defensemen to 10 in a shortened schedule with 18 goals.th In the Norris Trophy voting. He’s already eager to compete for Canada’s 2022 Olympic roster. He was 23 and signed for four seasons with a low AAV of $4.6 million. He’s literally the last asset anyone wants to see on the trading floor.
But general manager Bill Armstrong has unabashedly and ruthlessly dismantled the mess he left in front of Arizona for a truly square rebuild. Last summer, he traded defender Oliver Ekman-Larson, right winger Conor Garland and goalkeeper Darcy Kumper before moving center Christian Dvorak to the roster ahead of the season. Going forward, removing any doubts that Arizona has no intention of participating in the 2021-22 season. The “everything has to go” approach has enabled Coyotes to achieve Eight The first two rounds of the 2022 draft, subject to conditions of activation. Now, it looks like even Chychrun could be moved as part of the rebuild. He’s too young, and the contract doesn’t yet have any movement restrictions. They won’t start until 2023-24.
Given his enviable combination of size, strength, skating and scoring, Chychrun’s return has to be astronomical despite his poor season. The TSN internal group recently described the required package as “Jack Eichel likes.” So we’re looking for a combination that includes first-round picks, top prospects and impactful NHL players.
Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek recently named The Anaheim Ducks, St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings are suitors to watch, and at least 10 teams have been confirmed to have joined Chychrun. Which are the best to pitch for him? I picked five, listed them alphabetically, and added five as a bonus.
We know the Pacific Division will be fully open in 2021-22. However, few of us see Anaheim as one of the teams in contention for a championship. The Ducks have had an astonishing 2021-22 season, thanks in large part to an incredible breakout season at right wing Troy Terry, not to mention the heightened expectations of center Trevor Zeglass. If this team makes the playoffs, goalie John Gibson can steal the series like any net goalie. Adding another marquee could suddenly make this team dangerous.
The 2021-22 season has been a nightmare to start, and less than a year ago, Chychrun was a different maker on both ends of the ice, creating offense, limiting opposing offenses and excelling at the free throw line. He’ll obviously be a boon for the Ducks, but his long-term value makes him especially attractive to them, with front-four guards Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson on the UFA in the summer of 2022.
Of course, the price of getting Chychrun will be high. If you’re Armstrong, your questions might start with cornerstone guard Jamie Drysdale and/or 2022 first-round center Mason McTavish. The Ducks haven’t named their long-term GM replacement for Bob Murray, and they haven’t “traded away the top prospect” deep into their rebuild, so they’ll have to tread carefully if they go looking for Chychrun.
Tuukka Rask signed a PTO with AHL Providence last week. When the Bruins had deployed Jeremy Sweetman and Linus Ulmark, both with .918 save percentages, but still hoped to bring their longtime veteran starters back to the field, the message it sent was, This team still believes it can be in the Stanley Cup. The Bruins are fourth in the Atlantic Division, but they have played fewer games than their opponents and still maintain a 0.613-point percentage.
In recent seasons, from Torey Krug to Zdeno Chara, they’ve lost too many assets from the D’s left flank. Adding Chychrun to a top four that already includes Charlie McAvoy would dramatically change Boston’s identity and, in a sense, by bringing in a 23-year-old who was taken first overall by McCain in the 2016 draft Voy was later selected twice, thus “reversing” the team’s competitive window to a circular one. In hockey, Chychrun would be ideal for Boston, but does general manager Don Sweeney have the assets to lure Armstrong? The Bruins’ prospects, including right wing Fabian Lesser and center Johnny Beecher, lack an unmissable superstar, and most of their young NHL players have so far fallen short of expectations. Do the Bruins have to sacrifice Swayman or defensive back Brandon Carlo in order to make a serious offer for Chychrun?
Detroit Red Wings
Ezeman said he’s open to making a major trade at this stage of Detroit’s rebuild after the 2020-21 season — assuming he can acquire young, manageable assets. He was referring to Jakub Vrana, who he acquired at the time, and late that offseason he stole goalie Alex Nedeljkovic from the Carolina Hurricanes. Given his age and four years left on his contract, Chychrun theoretically fits Yzerman’s criteria. Thanks to Moritz Seid, adding him to the D-corps, which are already on the rise, will accelerate a rebuild that has made significant strides so far this season, keeping the Wings on the outside of the playoffs. Chychrun will also be the friendly face of Detroit, having played AAA for the Little Caesars as a teenager and a junior with OHL’s Sarnia Sting.
Of course, when one rebuilder trades with another rebuilder, the returns can be difficult to calculate. Arizona wants prospects and/or future assets, but Detroit is unlikely to part ways with first-rounders Seid and Lucas Raymond of the Izeman era, let alone Detroit’s promising 2021 first-rounder. Round players, defenseman Simon Edvinson and goalkeeper Sebastian Corsa. Will the Coyotes bite into a first-round pick next year, coupled with a bargain sale of some prospects from previous Wings regimes (like Filip Zadina or Joe Veleno)?
From a business standpoint alone, Chychrun would be an exciting addition to the Panthers. Florida-born NHLer who played for the Florida Panthers as a kid? How cool would that be? From a hockey standpoint, he’s the kind of player who can take the Panthers, already a high-end Stanley Cup contender, beyond the top. Their existing D-corps include Aaron Ekblad and Mackenzie Weegar, two of the best all-around players in the game, but they’re both righties and they play together. The Panthers need a strong southpaw to work hard in the top four. Imagine Chychrun playing with Ekblad and Weegar reuniting with Gustav Forsling. The Panthers are also willing to be aggressive in their pursuit of the cup. (To learn more about GM Bill Zito’s philosophy behind the way he traded with the Panthers, watch my interview with him later this week).
The Panthers will have to look at the trade from a salary-cap perspective, like Arizona, but they’ve shown they can accept salary to facilitate a deal. The Panthers also have some exciting young assets that could appeal to Arizona, from right wing Owen Tippett to left wing Grigory Jenisenko. The question is whether Armstrong will dig and demand center Anton Lendl.
Keep an eye out for the Armstrong link from Doug to Bill. Bill spent 15 years with the Blues organization, from scout to head of amateur scouting to assistant general manager, and maintained a long-standing relationship with Blues general manager Doug. That could make St. Louis invincible in the negotiations. Chychrun can help the Blues win at the moment, which is important because right-wing David Perron is a UFA in 2022, while centre-forward Ryan O’Reilly and right-wing winger Vladimir Tarasenko are a 2023 UFA.
Chychrun will also bring long-term stability to D-corps that have been unsuccessful in delivering top-to-star NHLers over the years. The Coyotes can speculate that Scott Perunovich will merge into one. Will they still insist that St. Louis play one of Robert Thomas and Jordan Keiro? The most intriguing element of the Blues-Coyotes deal is that Bill Armstrong will acquire assets that he played a major role in scouting during his time with the Blues.
Other notable Chychrun suitors:
Edmonton Oilers: The desire to win is there now, and there are some high-end ‘D’ prospects for oil.
Los Angeles Kings: Other than the Ottawa Senators, perhaps no team has a deeper level of promising trade prospects.
New York Islanders: They’ve been linked with Chychrun, but he’s more of a long-term asset than a winner for a team that could miss the playoffs in 2021-22.
Senator of Ottawa: If they get frustrated with not being able to go further in the rebuild, Chychrun will let them move forward, and it’s embarrassing that they have some young assets to offer Arizona.
Toronto Maple Leafs: They’re all-in and thus come along with many high-profile trading targets, but their potential client base isn’t as strong as it was a few years ago.