With just weeks remaining before the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline, the Arizona Coyotes have decisions to make involving the likes of Nick Bjugstad, Karel Vejmelka, and Shayne Gostisbehere. However, perhaps the most important name on that list to mention that’s been garnering plenty of trade attention since last season is defenseman Jakob Chychrun.
With 24 points in 31 games on five goals and 19 assists, the former franchise defenseman is on track to set a new career high in points after posting 41 points in 56 games during the 2020-21 season. With an ever-growing list of potential suitors, the Coyotes have infinite possibilities regarding Chychrun’s future with the organization. Prospects such as Matthew Knies, Alex Turcotte, Jake Sanderson, Robert Mastrosimone, and others are names to keep eye on as well if the Coyotes can complete a trade.
Where It All Started
At one point the future looked bright for the organization. The Coyotes locked up their future star defenseman to a six-year contract extension back in 2018 worth $27.6 million for an average annual value (AAV) of $4.6 million, ensuring fans their commitment to the former 16th overall pick. However, after a brief postseason run ended in five games to the Colorado Avalanche during the 2020 Bubble Playoffs in Edmonton, the Coyotes and Chychrun were left with uncertainty.
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The Coyotes had an up-and-down year during the 2020-21 season leading them to make a decision regarding the direction of the team. Incoming general manager Bill Armstrong ultimately decided to go towards the direction of a rebuild, and thus the Coyotes got to work rebuilding their roster and future. Longtime franchise defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson was dealt in the offseason, ushering Chychrun into the role of not only a franchise star but a primary piece of the core.
All eyes centered around the young defenseman, with speculation that he’d become the team’s next captain. Unfortunately, heading into the 2021-22 season the Coyotes’ plans quickly changed and Chychrun’s mindset going forward drastically differed from the organization’s. This ultimately led to his decision to be moved during the upcoming season, with the desire to play playoff hockey on a more competitive team.
Poor Season And Promising Bounce Back
After the announcement went public, Armstrong’s phone began to blow up with trade offers regarding the former 2016 first-round selection. The only issue, getting a preferred return consisting of two first-round picks and a prospect, along with an upcoming poor 2021-22 season. Plagued by injuries and clear signs of frustration, Chychrun took a major step back after his 41-point season, registering just 21 points in 47 games on seven goals and 14 assists.
Nevertheless, the calls kept rolling in and Chychrun’s trade value only grew larger. Entering the 2022-23 season, the Coyotes defenseman missed the beginning of the year rehabbing from offseason surgery. A slow start to the campaign only lasted for a short time upon his return, as he quickly looked to be regaining his form, leading to calls rolling back in ahead of this season’s trade deadline.
Decisions Looming, Who Could Be Looking To Add
With the impending deadline just weeks away, Armstrong has some decisions to make. While Chychrun is signed until the end of the 2024-25 season, the Coyotes have the ability to pull off possibly one of the biggest trades in franchise history. A trade that could ultimately take a year off the team’s rebuild and put them even closer to being competitive.
Teams like the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, St. Louis Blues, New York Rangers, and others could be looking to add a key piece at the deadline. While the asking price is steep, someone will undoubtedly pay the price for his services seeing that he’s a young left-handed two-way defenseman who can play top-four minutes. The Edmonton Oilers for one could be looking to bolster their blue line, while others such as the Maple Leafs, Rangers, or Islanders would receive back-end scoring with his addition. The Boston Bruins, the best team in the league, would be a likely landing spot if he’s looking to chase a Cup. Other dark horse candidates such as the Los Angeles Kings, Ottawa Senators, and Detroit Red Wings seem most likely as they have the prospects and picks to make a trade happen, but if they decide to pursue a deal remains to be seen.
While the Coyotes have no obligations to move him, eyes will be closely monitoring the ongoing situation in Arizona. Buckle up, in the next few weeks moves are going to be made around the league and the question remains whether the 24-year-old defenseman will still be a Coyote after March 3.
Mr. Evans is originally from Greenville, SC where he currently resides. Mr. Evans has been involved in hockey for the past 18 years now, following the Arizona Coyotes and St. Louis Blues. During his free time, Mr. Evans enjoys spending time with his family and girlfriend as well as being up in the mountains or taking pictures. Prior to joining The Hockey Writers, Mr. Evans previously worked for The Puck Authority, covering the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL and FanSided’s Bleedin’ Blue, covering the St. Louis Blues. You can find Mr. Evans on Twitter at @HaynesPEvans.