2 Coyotes the Oilers Could Be Scouting for a Future Trade

When the Arizona Coyotes faced the Los Angeles Kings on Dec. 1, the chair of the Los Angeles chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) and reporter for the NHL Network, Dennis Bernstein, tweeted that there were two Edmonton Oilers scouts in attendance to watch the game. On a night when the Kings beat the Coyotes 5-3, it’s curious as to whom the Oilers were scouting.

It’s unlikely that the Oilers were scouting Kings players as a trade between the two teams is unlikely due to being rivals in the Pacific Division; however, below are two Coyotes that Edmonton might consider trading for.

Nick Bjugstad Would Fill a Need in Oilers’ Bottom Six

Nick Bjugstad is a former first-round pick from the 2010 NHL Draft. He’s played ten seasons in the NHL with the Florida Panthers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Minnesota Wild and he signed a one-year deal with the Coyotes this past offseason for $900,000. His most productive season was in 2017-18 when he recorded 19 goals and 30 assists in 82 games. He hasn’t been able to crack the 20-point plateau since then; however, in 22 games this season he’s scored five goals, added five assists, and is on a 39-point pace playing with linemates Lawson Crouse and Matias Maccelli.

Explore everything hockey with THW’s Hockeypedia pages.

The Hockey Writers HockeyPedia 800x120

Hockey insider Frank Seravalli was on the “Oilers Now” show and indicated the Oilers need more players with a different dimension, with more “bite and juice”. He also said, “There’s a center component that would really help this team in terms of versatility and flexibility for Jay Woodcroft in his lineup — [and that’s] having a center that is really strong and in fact, may have some of those elements [of skill and grit] in his game, and I think, could really boost this team moving forward.”

Latest News & Highlights

Bjugstad is a player that fits Seravalli’s description of adding a different dimension to the Oilers’ bottom six. He’s a 6-foot-6, 209-pound right-shooting centerman that’s not opposed to throwing his weight around, as his 39 hits in 21 games suggest.

The Oilers could be scouting him because he has size, has provided secondary scoring on a struggling Coyotes team, and wouldn’t be expensive to acquire. As for a trade, they would likely have to send Devin Shore, along with a fourth or fifth-round draft pick to obtain Bjugstad’s services.

Jakob Chychrun Would Fill a Need on Oilers’ Blue Line

The obvious player that the Oilers were scouting was defenseman Jakob Chychrun, whose been in the trade rumour mill for quite some time. He’s made it public that he’s not open to being a part of a long-term rebuild with his current club and prefers to play for a playoff team.  

He’s an attractive piece because he has the potential to play on the top pair and his $4.6 million contract is a good value because he produces points from the backend. At 24 years old, he has room to grow with the Oilers’ core players, has good size at 6-foot-2, and has a cost-controlled contract for another two seasons.

Jakob Chychrun Arizona Coyotes
Jakob Chychrun, Arizona Coyotes (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Chychrun’s breakout season came during the shortened 2020-21 campaign where he scored 18 goals, and added 23 assists in 56 games. He was also stellar defensively, as Sportsnet noted he made 2.6 stick checks per game, which ranked first out of 180 defencemen. He also won 161 puck battles, showing that he has the potential to be the complete package on defence.  

At the same time, the young blueliner has some downsides. He’s prone to turnovers, but staying healthy is his biggest concern. Throughout his seven NHL seasons, he’s battled knee, shoulder, ankle, and wrist injuries and missed 35 games alone last season. On that note, Chychrun missed the start of the 2022-23 campaign due to a wrist injury, but made his season debut on Nov. 21. Through his first six games, he has already scored two goals and two assists with a plus-2 plus/minus rating. So far, things are looking good for the defenseman, and because of that, the trade talks are starting to heat up.

The Cost to Acquire Chychrun Starts With Philip Broberg

At first glance, Chychrun seems like an ideal fit on the Oilers’ blue line. They’re near the bottom of the league in goals-against, and they’re prone to giving up grade-A chances, and a capable blueliner of his calibre would immediately improve their defence. Also, adding a player like him would lessen the load on their current number-one defenseman, Darnell Nurse, who’s shown in the past that when he plays too many minutes, he’s prone to more errors from the backend.

Hockey insider Elliotte Friedman recently discussed the cost to acquire the young blueliner, saying, “The Coyotes are looking for two first-rounders and two things comparable to a first-rounder, plus. Their price hasn’t come down a lot, and the fact is, when Chychrun came back, he was scoring, and that’s a good thing for them. Now, I’ve heard that he’s asked to go to a contender, but that’s not a guarantee, ultimately Arizona has control over this, he does not have protection, I heard he’s preferred to go to a contender.”

He added that Edmonton hasn’t shown the most interest in acquiring the Coyotes’ defenseman, but the fact there were two Oilers’ scouts in attendance at the Coyotes’ game on Dec. 1 suggests otherwise. The Hockey Writers’ Rob Couch recently wrote what it would take to acquire Chychrun and mentioned the Oilers would have to give up defenseman Philip Broberg as the main piece. He wrote about the benefits of trading him for Chychrun:

Broberg shoots left and is primarily a left-side defenceman. Chychrun is the same. Acquiring him and moving on from Broberg would take a ton of pressure off Darnell Nurse and Brett Kulak on the left side. Nurse logs some of the most important and tough minutes among defencemen in the NHL, while Kulak is probably playing a little higher in the lineup than the team would like.

– Rob Couch

It seems like the Oilers wanted to see what they have in Broberg first before shipping him off in a trade. He played in 23 games last season and there was an expectation that he would take the next step as a regular on the team’s blue line, but an early injury delayed his regular-season debut. He’s suited up in five games since returning to the lineup on Nov. 26, but the question is, how long will general manager Ken Holland wait to see if his Swedish blueliner is capable of being an effective NHLer?

Related: Oilers Trading for a “Nasty” Defenceman Is Risky But Necessary

To make a deal work for Chychrun, the price starts with Broberg, an additional first-round pick, and a combination of one of the Oilers’ $3 million wingers. It’s a risky bet, considering Chychrun’s history of injuries, but in a season where the Oilers were considered Stanley Cup contenders, they’re currently not even in contention to lead their own division. Chychrun would help them now, the question is whether Holland is willing to take that risk.

What are your thoughts on the Oilers acquiring Nick Bjugstad or Jakob Chychrun? Have your say in the comments below!

Sign up for our regular 'Oilers Newsletter' for all the latest.