Oilers Not Being In On Chychrun Trade Talks Could Prove Costly

Word coming out of Edmonton today is that the Edmonton Oilers are not serious players when it comes to potential trade talks involving defenseman Jakob Chychrun. The blueliner is rumored to be available for the right price, even though the Arizona Coyotes are said not to be actively shopping the player or calling other teams about a deal.

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On paper, Chychrun fills a number of needs for the Oilers. It’s been reported the team is looking to improve the left-shot defense position and potentially acquire a bit more of a proven commodity than Duncan Keith in the second pair or Slater Koekkoek in the bottom pairing. Chychrun is 23 years old, signed to a value-friendly contract for a few more seasons and he’s got a ton of intangibles any team, including the Oilers, should love. Having him patrolling the blue line for the next three seasons would be seen as a win by a lot of fans.

Oilers Not Serious Contenders for Chychrun

According to both NHL insider Elliotte Friedman and Oilers Now host Bob Stauffer, the Oilers likely aren’t going to players for Chychrun’s services. Both suggest it’s possible, and a fluid situation could change things, but both also note it is unlikely as other teams are more serious contenders and will make more impressive offers than the Oilers will.

Friedman and Jeff Marek noted during their 32 Thoughts podcast on Tuesday, a couple of his sources said they don’t “think it’s going to be the Oilers.” Friedman added, “They’re not in it as much as some other teams are.” Providing a bit more insight as to why, Stauffer tweeted on Monday:

Have people asking about Jakob Chychrun. Good D. But, IMO doesn’t make sense right now. Darnell Nurse is 1LD. Duncan Keith-vet 2LD for short-term. Prospects Philip Broberg, Markus Niemelainen and Dmitri Samorukov all big left D “percolating” and cost-controlled.

Whether Stauffer is right or not, it seems irresponsible if the Oilers don’t at least seriously consider the idea of adding a player like Chychrun to their roster.

Why Wouldn’t the Oilers Be Interested?

While he’s not had the best 2021-22 season, considering all that Chychrun potentially brings to the table, it’s intriguing to hear that the Oilers aren’t doing cartwheels over the potential of this player being on the trade market. Stauffer’s comments seem to contradict the reports the Oilers are looking for an upgrade and that he uses the phrase “cost-controlled” is ironic considering Chychrun costs only $4.6 million on the cap.

Jakob Chychrun Arizona Coyotes
Jakob Chychrun, Arizona Coyotes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

There are a few things that may be going on here. First, Luke Fox reported that there’s some thought that teams (including the Coyotes) might be concerned about Chychrun’s injury situation. He asked in a recent article, “Why doesn’t Arizona want to build around him? Is it his injury history? (Chychrun is currently on IR and has already endured two major knee surgeries.) An unhappiness?”

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Could the Oilers be concerned about a full recovery with this player and are having doubts that he’s the right asset to invest long-term in? Alternatively, if Chychrun is unhappy in Arizona, what is he looking for if he wants to be moved? Do the Oilers have what he’s after? Has Holland potentially already been told the Oilers wouldn’t be in the running?

If this isn’t about his injuries, are the Oilers really that confident in players like Broberg, Niemelainen and Samorukov? Samorukov hasn’t played an NHL game yet. Its a gamble in a short window to win.

Not Considering Chychrun Might Be a Mistake

An argument can be made that the cost of acquisition for a player like Chychrun is going to be too high for the Oilers to really consider this. If Nick Kypreos is correct and the Coyotes are going to ask for four pieces, Edmonton would be giving up a ton of its future on a player that may or may not rebound to the great heights he achieved in 2020-21. If the Coyotes even mention the name Evan Bouchard, the Oilers should rightfully end the conversation.

That said, it’s rare that a player like Chychun becomes available. When one does, a GM like Ken Holland owes it to his team to explore the option. Friedman and Stauffer seem to be suggesting the Oilers aren’t even considering this.

It’s fair to ask why and I’m not sure Stauffer’s explanation offers enough of a reason.