The Arizona Coyotes have had tumultuous few weeks, starting with the ever-evolving arena drama, but it hasn’t ended there. Most recently defenseman Jakob Chychrun’s name has appeared in trade rumors, courtesy of NHL insider Elliotte Friedman, which has sparked a new wave of chatter in The Valley.
In others news, the Coyotes announced a partnership with Univision to broadcast one game each week in Spanish, and also announced the date for Skatin’ for Leighton at Phoenix Raceway.
Let’s dive in!
Chychrun Trade Rumors Starting to Heat Up
Friedman released his 32 thoughts column on Wednesday, and though the rising COVID-19 cases take center stage, his sixth point is certainly of interest to all Coyotes fans around The Valley: General manager Bill Armstrong may be listening to offers for Chychrun.
It was a scenario that was unthinkable even just a few months ago as Arizona entered a “scorched earth” rebuild, but if the offer is intriguing enough, expect Armstrong to at least listen to offers, even if there’s no intent to move him.
This development understandably has fans feeling anxious, considering the mass exodus that occurred this past offseason. Gone are Christian Dvorak, Darcy Kuemper, Adin Hill, Conor Garland, and former captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Could Chychrun be heading for the same fate?
“Arizona GM Bill Armstrong refused to comment when asked, but it now sounds like the Coyotes are gauging the market on Jakob Chychrun. I’ve heard the ask is massive, but that doesn’t mean opponents are running away. He’s signed for three more years at a very reasonable $4.6 million AAV and is a terrific player. This is one to watch.”Elliotte Friedman in his most recent 32 Thoughts column
It’s unlikely, and though Armstrong has been mum regarding any potential deal, let’s look at the facts:
- Chychrun is on a team-friendly deal with an annual cap hit of $4.6 million through the 2024-25 season
- He’s a league-worst minus-29, so it’s not exactly selling high.
- He’s presently sidelined on the injured reserve with an upper-body injury
- The Coyotes have three first-rounders and five second-rounders in the upcoming draft.
- At 23 years old, he can be a cornerstone of the rebuild.
Given the stockpile of high-end draft picks Armstrong has at his disposal, it’s tough to imagine a deal going down unless he receives an absolutely obscene offer. That alone makes it hard to believe that any team with serious interest could put together a package enticing enough to actually send Chychrun out of the desert, at least without mortgaging its own future.
Where Will The Coyotes Play Next Season?
With all of the drama around the Coyotes’ arena deal in Glendale, gophnx.com journalist and longtime Coyotes insider Craig Morgan wrote about the team’s options for next season. Though it was originally thought it would return to Gila River Arena, even with negotiations seemingly cut off, that is starting to appear less and less likely. (From: ‘Exploring Coyotes’ interim arena options,’ gophnx.com, Dec. 12, 2021)
Morgan highlights potential options such as Chase Field (yes, for real), Arizona State’s new arena (slated to open this upcoming fall), Tucson Arena, the Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, or Arizona Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum. Of those options, Veteran’s Coliseum seems like it’s the most likely option, however, massive renovations would be needed if that were to happen.
Even with all of the relocation rumors seemingly reaching a fever pitch, NHL Commissional Gary Bettman indicated he has zero concern over the team’s arena status heading into next year.
“My advice has been, let’s focus on the plan for the building that’s going to come, and there are plenty of options to deal on an interim basis,” Bettman said at the NHL Board of Governors meeting earlier this week. “I don’t want to get into them now and start having comparative speculative stories. We’ll deal with it. I am not concerned. There are options that will work.”
It’ll be interesting to see what ultimately happens, but at least in the immediate future, the doors will remain unlocked at Gila River Arena.
Skatin’ For Leighton Set For January 30
The Coyotes announced this week that Skatin’ For Leighton, presented by Phoenix Children’s Hospital, will be held a Phoenix Raceway on Sunday, Jan. 30. All proceeds will benefit the Leighton Accardo Memorial Fund to honor her legacy. Fans six years or older will have the opportunity to skate, walk, or run the racetrack for 49 dollars, and will also receive assorted swag, including a t-shirt and tickets to a future game, among other things.
Accardo was just nine years old when she lost her battle with cancer, and has remained in the thoughts of the Coyotes organization and fans since her untimely passing. The Leighton Accardo Memorial Fund was created to provide financial assistance to girls interested in playing hockey in Arizona, as well as continue the memory of Accardo in the Valley hockey community.
Coyotes Partner With Univision For Spanish Broadcasts
The Arizona Coyotes announced Wednesday they are partnering with Univision to broadcast 14 Coyotes games in Spanish, on KHOV 105.1 FM, beginning with the team’s Dec. 23 matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Games will be called by current Arizona Cardinals Spanish Radio play-by-play announcer Luis Hernandez, who has worked for the Cardinals since 1998.
“We are very excited about our new partnership with Univision Arizona,” Coyotes President & CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez said in a release. “To expand our rabid fan base, we need to attract Latinos to our great sport and expose hockey to new communities. We also need to super-serve our Latino fans and fans in waiting. Our Spanish radio Game of the Week broadcast with Univision Arizona will help us engage with the Valley’s Hispanic market in an authentic way and promote growth, diversity and inclusion.”
A complete list of the weekly games can be found on their Web site.
What to Watch For
The Coyotes head on a three-game roadtrip with games in Anaheim, Vancouver, and Seattle, before returning home to face the Lightning on Dec. 23.
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A die-hard hockey fan in the desert, and proud Iowa State alum. Detroit Red Wings and Arizona Coyotes contributor for The Hockey Writers.