Kings News & Rumors: Chychrun Trade, Athanasiou Injury & More

In this edition of Los Angeles Kings News & Rumors, I discuss the rumors surrounding Jakob Chychrun and what they mean for LA, Andreas Athanasiou’s recent injury, and Drew Doughty being added to the COVID list.

Coyotes Gauging Market on Chychrun

In a recent edition of Elliotte Friedman’s 32 Thoughts, he mentioned that the Coyotes are exploring the possibility of moving Chychrun. “Arizona GM Bill Armstrong refused to comment when asked, but it now sounds like the Coyotes are gauging the market on Jakob Chychrun,” Friedman said. “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.”

Jakob Chychrun Arizona Coyotes-Kings News & Rumors: Chychrun Trade, Athanasiou Injury & More
Jakob Chychrun, Arizona Coyotes (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Since last season, the Kings have been rumored to be looking for a young, offensively-gifted defenseman, preferably one that shoots left—Chychrun is the definition of this player. Even though LA drafted a top defensive prospect in Brandt Clarke with their 2021 first-round pick, Clarke is just that—a prospect.

Chychrun was the Coyotes’ first-round pick from 2016 and is just 23 years old. Last season, he scored 18 goals and 23 assists and while he has had a slow start to this season, there is no reason to think that he will stay quiet for much longer.

Austin Stanovich of The Hockey Writers recently wrote a great article about Chychrun and the Kings—the article can be found here. As Stanovich and Friedman mention, the price for Chychrun would be high but the Kings should certainly inquire about him at the very least.

Athanasiou Out of the Lineup

Athanasiou has had a tough start to the season. He missed the start of the campaign with an injury, making his debut on Nov. 5 versus the New Jersey Devils. He played through Nov. 21 before being placed on the NHL’s COVID list. He returned on Dec. 9 versus the Dallas Stars but is now out of the lineup once again.

Andreas Athanasiou LA Kings-Kings News & Rumors: Chychrun Trade, Athanasiou Injury & More
Andreas Athanasiou, Los Angeles Kings (Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images),

In the Kings’ recent 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Athanasiou sustained a lower-body injury and did not return to the game. He is expected to be out for at least the three games following the contest in Tampa so he will look to return Dec. 22 versus the Edmonton Oilers. In the 11 games he has played this season, he has scored three goals and added three assists. We know that he has the ability to score at high rates and staying in the lineup would go a long way towards the goal of getting on the scoresheet more often.

Doughty Added to COVID List

Prior to Thursday’s game versus the Florida Panthers, Doughty was added to the COVID list, making him unavailable to the Kings. It is unfortunate when any player is taken out of the lineup due to COVID precautions but for a player like Doughty, who recently returned from injury, it is an even tougher pill to swallow.

Doughty found himself out of the lineup with an injury in late October and did not return until Nov. 30. He has played just 11 games so far this season and the tally of games he has missed will continue to rise. Despite not playing many games this season, he has performed quite well in the contests he has been in the lineup for; he has posted three goals and 10 assists. He has made it clear that if he is in the lineup, he will produce, so getting him back will be significant for the team’s scoring.

Related: LA Kings 2021-22 Season Preview: Defensive Pairings Projection

The Kings aren’t the only team feeling the effects of COVID. The entire league is seeing an increased number of cases, meaning there is a lot of uncertainty as far as which players will be in the lineup on a given night. Head coach Todd McLellan commented on the current situation:

“Whoever is wearing the uniform is who’s going to play tonight and they’re all NHL quality players,” McLellan said. “If you’re playing in the NHL, you belong here, there’s no miracles or mistakes, so the quality of competition is going to be one that may be hungrier at times. The callups that arrive for the Kings, the Flames or the Panthers, whatever team it is, often they are hungry and they want to prove this is their opportunity. It makes for an intense, hungry game and opponent. We saw that in Ottawa, it was a difficult night to play that game. They checked really hard, they played well. Whether it’s us or any other team that plays short, we have to expect that from them.”

Moving forward, no one knows what the implications of COVID will be for the NHL but as McLellan alluded to, if teams are given the green light to play, there will be a full lineup that the Kings will have to be ready for.