Oilers Have Opportunity to Bolster Lineup With Jakob Chychrun Addition

After some speculation this offseason they may consider moving him, it appears that the Arizona Coyotes are now gauging market interest for defenceman Jakob Chychrun. This comes from Elliotte Friedman, who wrote in his latest 32 Thoughts blog that while refusing to comment on the situation, it appears Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong is considering moving him.

Related: Oilers Still Have Positives Amidst 6-Game Losing Streak

This news happens to come at a time where the Edmonton Oilers have found themselves in a massive rut. Losers of six straight, nothing seems to be going right for this club right now. Whether it is injuries on the back end, some untimely goals allowed by their goaltenders, or their surprising lack of scoring as of late, many believe there needs to be a massive change made to this group to get them back on track.

Chychrun Would Be Ideal Fit

Heading into the 2021-22 season, Chychrun was considered by some to be an elite defenceman after his breakout 2020-21 campaign in which he scored a career-high 18 goals and 41 points in 56 games. Both of those totals placed second on a Coyotes squad that struggled to put up offence last season, making them all the more impressive. Some even suggested that he should have been a Norris Trophy candidate.

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

Unfortunately for Chychrun, the 2021-22 season has been a disaster. This summer, many believed he could be suiting up for Team Canada at the 2022 Winter Olympics, but that chatter has died quickly given the fact that through 26 games, he has managed just seven points while sitting with a league-worst plus/minus rating of minus-29. There is no denying how ugly those totals are, but such is life when you are playing on a team as weak as the Coyotes.

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At just 23 years old, there is still plenty of room for Chychrun to grow as a player, and many believe he was just scratching the surface last season. A move to a new team, potentially the Oilers, who are much more skilled, would without a doubt re-establish his confidence and help him get back on track as a top-end NHL defenceman. Even better for him is that he wouldn’t be relied on to be the team’s top blueliner.

Elite Second Pairing Option

Chychrun is a left-handed shot who plays the left side, a position where the Oilers have another very good player in Darnell Nurse. Given how highly the coaching staff seems to think of Nurse, it’s likely they would slide Chychrun in on the second pairing if they were to acquire him. But doing so would also allow their coaches to lower Nurse’s ridiculous average of 26:23 minutes per game. This would be a significant upgrade over Duncan Keith, who is currently occupying that spot and has had some struggles in doing so at times this season.

He’s also capable of playing on special teams, particularly the power play, if the Oilers would choose to have him do so. Last season, his 18 goals led all NHL defenders, and that was on a far less talented team. It is flat-out scary to think about what he could do if he were to share the ice with players like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

Oilers Could Make Room for Chychrun’s Low Cap Hit

Friedman reported that Chychrun won’t come cheap in a trade, and that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Not only is he a terrific player, but his cap hit is just $4.6 million per season, a deal that still has three additional seasons remaining after 2021-22. Simply put, a player this good, this young, with this cap hit doesn’t become available very often.

Regardless of the picks and prospects that would need to be included in this, the Oilers need to be in on it. They are in win-now mode with both McDavid and Draisaitl in the primes of their career, and adding a player of Chychrun’s caliber would give them a huge boost. In terms of who you would give up to fit him in cap-wise, it may not be all that difficult given that the Coyotes have had no problem taking on some very bad contracts in order to gain draft picks. It wouldn’t be all that surprising to see them agree to take on Mikko Koskinen’s deal for the remainder of the season, something the Oilers may be comfortable with given that Mike Smith is nearing a return.

Mikko Koskinen Edmonton Oilers
Mikko Koskinen, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

If Oilers general manager Ken Holland isn’t willing to move Koskinen given the questions surrounding Smith’s durability, then he will need to get a bit more creative in making this happen. Another starting piece could be Zack Kassian, along with several prospects and picks. But regardless of what needs to be done, Holland needs to make it happen, as the Oilers are in complete disarray right now and need to get back on track.

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