Coyotes top defenseman Jakob Chychrun has been the latest Coyotes player who has found their name making its rounds in rumors, awful Capfriendly trade machine proposals, and the NHL Twittersphere alike. It all started after the conclusion of the 2021-22 NHL season.
Well, it started before then I’m sure, but his exit interview sparked rumors of an unhappy Chychrun entering a pivotal summer for a rebuilding Coyotes organization, the first full summer of work for new GM Bill Armstrong, where the Coyotes pre-draft day had eight selections in the top 50 picks. Many were bracing for a trade born on the draft floor that would send Chychrun away for more picks and prospects to bolster the rebuild. Draft weekend came, picks number 1 through 225 were made, no trade. So what will happen? Does a trade even make sense? What can the Coyotes expect in return for the highly coveted 24-year-old defenseman?
Why is makes sense
The Coyotes are in full, scorched-earth tear-down mode, it’s no surprise. When Travis Boyd is your #1 center for any amount of games, you are trying to lose. Jakob Chychrun is a gamer – he wants to win, and winning is not something Arizona plans to do for at least another season or two.
To move Chychrun now in his prime would guarantee a full return, especially while he is still inked to his sweet $4.6 mil deal for 3 more years. The rumored returns for an asset like Chychrun are steep, and rightfully so. After a bit of a down year this past season, he previously enjoyed an 18 goal, 41 point campaign in 56 games in 2020-21 where he logged important minutes and looked like a leader on the blueline.
Rumors are rumors, but if you ask me what a return for a player of Chychrun’s pedigree should be, it starts with an unprotected 2023 1st round pick. This will be tricky, and leave some value on the table in some situations, but if a team like the Islanders, Stars, or Senators are willing to give it to you, you take it and run. If you can get another pick in the top 10 from this trade, in a significantly stronger draft than 2022, that maximizes the efficiency of your rebuild.
But this is the NHL, and most GM’s are more worried about looking foolish than doing a good job, so realistically I would say 2023 protected 1st round pick (becomes a 2024 1st if whatever condition isn’t met), 2025 1st round pick, a blue-chip prospect, another good prospect. This price goes down the longer Arizona holds onto Chychrun since the contract he’s on is incredible value in itself.
Why it doesn’t make sense
Teams spend tons of picks over the course of decades trying to draft a guy like Jakob Chychrun, so why would we give him away now that we have him? He’s just as old as the other players we’re building around like Keller and Crouse, and apart from his comments of wanting to win there’s zero pressure to trade him.
Chychrun is still the best defenseman we’ve had since prime Ekman-Larsson and it would be foolish to trade a foundational player like that when you still have a lot of unknowns on defense in the prospect pool.
JJ Moser had a great rookie year and looked dependable and even veteran at times, but can he keep trending upward?
Victor Söderström was considered a reach at 11th overall in 2019 and has yet to show what he can do in the NHL as well.
Defense is still a big question mark for the Coyotes and Chychrun’s presence in the top 4 makes a massive difference.
The Coyotes will still need veterans and skill, you can’t have all 20-22 year olds running around the ice and expect to win anything or develop into NHL players. By the time Arizona expects to be competitive, players like Clayton Keller, Nick Schmaltz and Lawson Crouse expect to be the core onto which the next iteration of drafted talent is built around. Chychrun is certainly a welcome addition to that list, but his desires to win might be too great to stick around and wait. You can’t fault a guy for wanting to win, that’s why a lot of these guys play the game.
Why it probably will happen
Something we’ve learned recently is if you try to keep a player that doesn’t want to be there, you lose. Chychrun becomes a UFA at the end of his deal, which means we could lose him for nothing. Every passing year, his value depletes, and right now he’s the biggest trade chip we have. GM Bill Armstrong isn’t trading Chychrun because of an internal conflict, I think as soon as the right offer comes by, Jakob’s bags are packed, and it might be for the best.
The Coyotes are in a fragile state, between the online slander about their temporary arena situation, and the constant barrage of hate online from hockey fans from all over who are for some reason enraged by a team they have no affiliation with, we can’t afford to lose Chychrun for nothing. We can’t even afford to lose him for just something. Unless Chychrun somehow indicates he is willing to stay here longer than his current contract, the writing is on the wall for the rising star defenseman.