Grading the Senators’ Blockbuster Trade for Chychrun

It’s finally over. The Jakob Chychrun saga has come to an end, as the Arizona Coyotes traded the defenseman earlier on the evening of March 1, less than two days before the NHL trade deadline. The surprise is that the 24-year-old blueliner got dealt to the Ottawa Senators, who were thought to be out of the running. The Senators didn’t have to give up much to acquire him either. Here are the full details: 

Senators receive: 

Coyotes receive:

  • 2023 first-round pick (top-5 protected)
  • 2024 conditional second-round pick
  • 2026 conditional second-round pick

It’s clear the Coyotes came down from their price, originally thought to be two first-round picks and a top prospect. That gave the Senators an opportunity to pounce and find a much-needed upgrade on defense. Here are trade grades for each side. 

Chychrun Adds Different Dimension to Senators Defense

The two significant needs for the Senators are in between the pipes and on the back end. They addressed one by acquiring Chychrun, who was having a fantastic season at the time of the trade. After struggling in 2021-22 and having offseason surgery that delayed the start of his season, he’s rebounded nicely and has seven goals and 28 points in 36 games. 

Related: Ottawa Senators Acquire Jakob Chychrun From Coyotes

Latest News & Highlights

Chychrun’s biggest strength is his offensive skill set and puck-moving ability. He’s a good skater who excels in transition and entering the offensive zone with possession. Once in the offensive zone, he’s able to create scoring chances, whether by shooting the puck or setting up his teammates with his passing ability. And he knows how to generate offense off the rush if that’s how his team is attacking. 

Related: THW’s 2023 Trade Grades

While Chychrun has a reputation for being an offensive defenseman, he’s also quite good defensively. He stands up at the blue line and prevents controlled zone entries, and he exits the defensive zone cleanly with puck possession. Overall, he’s a high-end two-way blueliner: 

Jakob Chychrun Ottawa Senators
Jakob Chychrun’s microstats for the 2022-23 season, as of March 1 (via JFresh Hockey)

For the Senators, this is a home run addition. Thomas Chabot has played well in his time in the Canadian capital, and Jake Sanderson has shown promise as a rookie, but Chychrun easily becomes their best defenseman. They did it without giving up any of their top prospects and only one first-round pick. Add in that he’s under contract through 2024-25 at a cap hit of $4.6 million, and this could go down as one of Pierre Dorion’s best moves as Senators general manager since it looks ahead to the future.

Senators Grade: A

Coyotes Overplayed Their Hand

For Chychrun’s sake, the Coyotes were going to have come down on their price to move him ahead of Friday’s deadline. Teams obviously weren’t biting on the ask of two firsts and a top prospect. Add in the fact that the Coyotes weren’t willing to take back any money, and that essentially killed any chance GM Bill Armstrong had of getting the return he wanted: 

Chychrun was the Coyotes’ best trade chip, even ahead of Nick Schmaltz. You could throw Karel Vejmelka into the mix, but goaltenders don’t usually fetch massive returns in trades. The fact that the Coyotes weren’t willing to take back money to heighten the value of their best trade chip is a loss for them. It hurts their rebuild, even though they picked up three more draft picks and now have 21 in the first three rounds of the next three entry drafts. How will that impact other deals they want to make, too? Will it lower the values for players like Schmaltz or Lawson Crouse if they want to move them? 

The Coyotes have two first-round picks in the 2023 draft, assuming the Senators don’t end up in the top five, which never hurts. But it feels like they should have gotten way more for a player that was their best player and that they held onto for almost 18 months before dealing him. If this is what the rest of the trade deadline looks like for them, it could be a long 36 hours. 

Coyotes Grade: C-