The Florida Panthers are doing alright so far this year. Currently, they sit at third in the Atlantic Division with 40 points and a record of 18-7-4. Of course, the team has a few issues. One of those is their bottom pairing on defense as the left side is a revolving door of players. It’s featured Lucas Carlsson, Kevin Connauton, and Olli Juolevi so far this season.
In addition, they have had to call up a few other players due to injury, such as Matt Kiersted and Chase Priskie. With that being said, sometime before the trade deadline, general manager Bill Zito should work his magic and try to bring in Arizona Coyotes defenseman and alternate captain, Jakob Chychrun. According to Elliotte Friedman, the Yotes are gauging the market for him to see what they can get back.
It Would Be a Great Homecoming for Chychrun
Chychrun was born in Boca Raton, Florida, which is about 25 minutes north of Sunrise in Palm Beach County. In addition, he started his minor hockey league journey with the Junior Panthers. Also, his father, former NHL defenseman and Stanley Cup Champion Jeff Chychrun, currently works with the Panthers organization as an analyst for Bally Sports Florida.
It would be the ultimate homecoming for him and he’d work for an organization that not only helped jumpstart his career but is assisted by his own dad. In addition, the weather is not that much different from Arizona and he could adapt to it with ease. Furthermore, Florida has the added benefit of no state income tax, which is something that Arizona currently enforces.
Chychrun’s Contract is Somewhat Affordable
Chychrun’s contract is extremely reasonable for the talent he brings. He is currently in the third year of a six-year deal worth $4.6 million annually. While Florida does not currently obtain the cap space at this moment at only $245k, it is not too farfetched for them to find some extra cap at the deadline.
The Panthers currently have a few wingers that may be on their way out sooner rather than later. For example, Frank Vatrano is in the last year of his $2.5 million per year contract and was the subject of trade rumors this past offseason. Additionally, winger Owen Tippett is in the final year of his entry-level contract and it is unknown if he’ll be brought back as he has not been performing well for Florida as of late.
Lastly, another winger in Patric Hornqvist is not getting any younger and Zito may be looking to move that $5.3 million cap hit. Furthermore, they have Grigori Denisenko potentially being NHL ready and may not need the services of Tippett, Hornqvist or Vatrano. As a result, that could be some extra cap space made in a trade for Chychrun, while also hoping the Coyotes are willing to retain some salary.
Chychrun Could Solve the Revolving Door on Defense
As mentioned earlier, there have been a few players that have come up and played for Florida at the left spot on the third defensive pairing. As a result, a trade for Chychrun would benefit the team in two ways. It would solidify the third pairing by giving the team a stable, veteran defensive piece and it would give the younger players some more time in Charlotte to develop with top-pairing minutes for the Checkers.
In addition, this trade could make the Cats’ defensive core one of the best in hockey with Chychrun, potential Norris candidate Aaron Ekblad, his partner in MacKenzie Weegar, along with Radko Gudas, Gustav Forsling, and Brandon Montour. It would be borderline unfair for the rest of the NHL.
Will Zito Pull the Trigger and Make it Happen?
The option is very intriguing for Florida. While Arizona did mention the asking price, it is currently unknown what exactly it is. With the recent defensive struggles the Panthers have had, it does not hurt to at least try and make a potential offer. Zito has already made trades with Arizona in getting Anton Stralman off of the books so it seems that he and Arizona Coyotes general manager, Bill Armstrong are on good terms with one another. With the season almost halfway over, this could not only help solidify the defensive core but assist in making a big push towards the postseason for the Panthers.