The Washington Capitals traded Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway on Feb. 23 and may trade more of their unrestricted free agents (UFAs) in the coming days. Even though the veteran core of Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie and John Carlson are due to return next season, the organization may retool the roster.
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TSN’s Darren Dreger tweeted on Feb. 24 that the Capitals could be a suitor for Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun. General manager (GM) Brian MacLellan may be acquiring the necessary draft capital with the intent of trading for a player like him. If such a trade occurs, it will be evident they are looking to get younger while remaining competitive for next year. Let’s take a look at why the Capitals should acquire the blueliner by the trade deadline.
Chychrun Wants To Play For A Better Team
As long as Ovechkin is chasing Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goal-scoring record, the Capitals will aim to be a playoff contender. Acquiring an experienced player like Chychrun who is entering his prime will make them younger. He is a defenseman that would increase the depth of the Capitals’ blue line and can also occasionally perform like a top player at the position. They have missed Carlson’s presence since he has been out of the lineup for two months. Chychrun would be able to fill the offensive void that is left by his absence as he has seven goals and 21 assists in 36 games played. He can contribute to the power play as well due to his strengths as an offensive-minded defenseman.
While the Capitals are not a top playoff contender this season, with the proper roster changes this offseason and better luck with health, they could improve next year. Besides some flaws in his defensive game, the biggest concern with Chychrun has been the time he has missed due to various ailments he has sustained during his career. He has missed over 100 games over the past six years with ankle, shoulder, knee, and wrist injuries. They have been one of the top teams in the league this year in terms of games missed by injured players and may not want to acquire another player with an extensive history of ailments. Despite that, he makes a difference when he is healthy and would benefit from playing on a better team.
Coyotes’ Asking Price Is Substantial
The Coyotes may need to absorb some of Chychrun’s salary and lower their asking price slightly to make a trade happen. TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun reported earlier this season they are looking for a large return in a deal for the talented, oft-injured blueliner. He commented on the club’s asking price:
It is a high price and listen, I think it’s important to understand why Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong is asking for two first-round picks plus either a prospect or a young NHL player in any deal for Jakob Chychrun. Number one, I think he’s looked at the Hampus Lindholm deal a year ago where Anaheim got a first-round pick and two seconds for an older player who was a pending UFA and ends up going to Boston, of course the Bruins signed him.
There’s the Brandon Hagel deal Chicago getting two first-round picks for Hagel because of his cheap cap and Chychrun is young. He’s got a bargain contract. And if history shows us anything in terms of the Darcy Kuemper trade, where Arizona got a first and a young player and a third, Bill Armstrong is going to stick to his price.– Pierre LeBrun
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If MacLellan is willing to move two first-round picks – he could trade the 2023 first-round selection that the Capitals acquired on Feb. 23, and a prospect or a young player on the roster – Armstrong may decide to execute the trade. Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff wrote that the Coyotes’ GM has asked for too much in return for Chychrun, which is why they have not been able to trade him. Some teams rumored to have interest in the blueliner, such as the Bruins, moved on as they were able to improve their defense by agreeing to a trade with the Capitals involving Orlov. A potential deal could involve the Capitals trading one of their 2023 first-round picks, a 2023 second-round pick, and Connor McMichael to the Coyotes for Chychrun. McMichael is the equivalent of a first-round pick due to being selected 25th overall in the 2019 NHL Draft.
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Acquiring Chychrun would give the Capitals a talented blueliner who is under contract for next season. The franchise is in need of more defensemen who will not be unrestricted free agents after the season as Carlson represents the only player at the position under contract entering next season. The Capitals have had their share of struggles and may miss the playoffs this year but could be refreshed entering next season with a healthier core and additions made during the offseason. With the veteran core due to return for another year, the goal should be to retool the roster this offseason to have a better year in 2023-24 and finish within the top three spots in the Metropolitan Division.