An Addition to Jakob Chychrun Trade Proposals

Photo credit:© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
1 year ago
Considering no one has talked about a Jakob Chychrun trade to Edmonton I thought it would be a good time to look at it. I keed. I keed.
Chychrun to Edmonton has been discussed for more than a year. He’s an enticing player, especially when he’s healthy. The Coyotes have been asking for a lot, which is why no team has stepped up to acquire him. However, with the 24-year-old healthy and playing well, teams seem more interested in adding him to their roster.
What a team is asking for and what teams are willing to give can be two very different conversations. I understand why Bill Armstrong has asked for three key pieces. He’d like two first-round picks and a top prospect. Or a combination of high picks and prospects. Chychrun is 24 years of age. He’s mobile. He’s physical. He’s an excellent point producer. The major red flag has been health. He’s been injured frequently. He missed 14 games as a rookie. Then he missed 32, 29, 8, 0 (shortened season), and 35 and he missed the first 16 games this season.
But he’s been excellent since returning. He has 20 points in 24 games. He has five PP points, but Edmonton doesn’t need a left-shot D on the top PP unit. He could play on the second unit with Evan Bouchard. What is most impressive about his season is that he is +8 (23-15) at 5×5 on a Coyotes team that only has two other regulars as plus players 5×5. Chychrun is young, good and has a solid cap hit of $4.6m this year and for two more seasons.
But it is important to remember a trade for Chychrun won’t just be for the three pieces. You also have to make the salary cap work, and that is much more difficult to do in-season.
Any trade rumour involving the Oilers acquiring has revolved around Philip Broberg and draft picks.
Should Edmonton trade Philip Broberg and two firsts for Chychrun? The truth is it won’t just be Broberg. Edmonton will have to add other players to make the money work. (I do think the return for Chychrun will end up being lower than the current three key pieces).
I think those three pieces for Chychrun are too much. Mainly because I don’t view Chychrun as the final missing piece for the Oilers’ Stanley Cup aspirations. They have a few other areas they need to improve. They need another legit bottom-six player, who is cheap, and they need to alter the mix of their right defence. And we don’t know yet if Stuart Skinner can be the guy in goal, although he is trending very well. If Chychrun was the final missing piece, then I’d do it, because it would be worth it. There is never a guarantee you will win, but if the Oilers were only lacking one top-four LD, then I’d throw caution to the wind and pay the steep price.
There is one scenario I see as more palatable, should the Oilers consider acquiring Chychrun for those three pieces — they’d need to get another player in return. It would need to be a solid, consistent bottom-six forward who can kill penalties, is solid 5×5 and isn’t expensive. Think along the lines of Barclay Goodrow for Tampa Bay. The Lighting traded a first-rounder (which was a late pick) for him. He had a $925K cap hit for two playoff runs. They did the same with Blake Coleman who had a $1.5m cap hit. Both trades worked out exceptionally well for the Lightning and for the players. Goodrow and Coleman both cashed in big as UFAs after winning their second consecutive Stanley Cup.
There are only two forwards on the Coyotes’ roster who fit the description Edmonton needs. Christian Fischer and Nick Bjugstad.
Fischer turns 26 in April. He is a pending RFA. He skates well. He has 8-6-14 in 40 games, mainly at 5×5 and he kills penalties. His underlying numbers aren’t great, although I do wonder how much of that is due to being on a bad team. I remember when many suggested Duncan Keith was the worst D-man in the NHL because of his underlying numbers in Chicago, but overlooked he was playing with raw rookies on a bad Chicago team. The numbers are one aspect to look at, but you need to dig deeper.
The problem I see with Fischer is he’s a pending RFA. He is on pace to score 15 goals and 30 points. Which means he likely will command $2.5m or more. Edmonton has not had success recently with players in that pay grade. Kailer Yamamoto, Jesse Puljujarvi and Warren Foegele have cap hits between $2.75m-$3.1m. Adding another bottom-six, complementary winger at that price doesn’t work.
Bjugstad, however, is intriguing. He is a pending UFA with a $900K cap hit. He is cheaper and fitting him on the roster this year would be easier. He is having an excellent season with 10-7-17 (9-6-15 at 5×5), he has outscored the opposition 24-20 and is 4th on the Coyotes (among regulars) in xGF%. No Coyote is above 50%, because the overall team isn’t that good. Bjugstad is a right-shot centre, which the Oilers need, but he isn’t great in the faceoff dot. He is 46% this year, after being 57% last year in Minnesota. He’s 47% in his career. He is huge (6’6″, 210), can kill penalties and historically he has been good at 5×5 with GF% as well as other underlying numbers.
The issue is he is a pending UFA and he is American. Many USA players like to play in their home country. I’m not sure if Bjugstad is one. I’d like to think at this stage of his career he wants to be on a team where he can win, as he turns 31 this summer. While he’s having a good year, how many contending teams are going to give him a big raise? Would he re-sign in Edmonton for $1.1m next year? If so, then acquiring him in the deal has more value.
Chychrun and Bjugstad have a combined cap hit of $5.5m, although the Coyotes retaining 50% on Bjugstad would make it $5.05m. The Oilers would need to add Jesse Puljujarvi and Derek Ryan to the package to make the salaries work. Broberg, Puljujarvi and Ryan have a combined cap hit of $5.113m.
I understand many are down on Puljujarvi. He has struggled this season, but I still see him as a legit NHL player. I just don’t see him as a top-six player, but he has the ability to be an effective third-line player who could move up to your second line when needed. I don’t see much offensive upside right now. I haven’t seen much improvement in his passing, shooting, stickhandling and offensive instincts. Maybe a change of scenery will help him, but in his time in Edmonton, I haven’t seen it. That isn’t a bad thing. The majority of NHL forwards don’t have consistent top-six scoring ability. It is difficult to produce consistently in the NHL.
Even though Puljujarvi is struggling, I view him as a player who can contribute on an NHL team. So, if you add him to the deal, I’d ask for some sort of mid-round pick in return so I’m not just giving him away for nothing.
Ideally, Edmonton wouldn’t have to give up Broberg and two 1sts for Chychrun. That is a lot, although the 1sts should be late-round picks, which lessens the blow a bit. If I was the GM, I’d try to formulate a deal that got me another player who could improve the depth of the Oilers.
Maybe you like Fischer better and feel you could sign him for $1.5m or so. If that is the case, I see value in him as well.
For Edmonton to acquire Chychrun straight up, Puljujarvi and another roster player have to be involved to make the deal work salary-wise. Unless Ken Holland can make another trade to shed salary. Right now, Puljujarvi has very little trade value, unfortunately.
Would you be interested in Chychrun and Bjugstad/Fischer for Broberg, Puljujarvi, Ryan and two first-rounders?
Would or should the Oilers?

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