Trade Deadline Profile: Jakob Chychrun, Arizona Coyotes

Photo credit:© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
1 year ago
Over the next few weeks leading up to the March 3 trade deadline, I’ll be doing an in-depth look at the players who are on the trade block and whether they would be a good fit for the Edmonton Oilers. Today, we have Jakob Chychrun.

Who is Jakob Chychrun?

If you’ve paid any sort of attention to the Edmonton Oilers this season, you’ve surely seen Jakob Chychrun’s name mentioned at least once. He’s got to be the most talked-about Arizona Coyote ever.
The Coyotes selected Chychrun with the No. 16 overall pick in the 2016 draft, which was quite a bit lower than he was projected to go. Ironically, he was selected with a pick that Ken Holland traded to Arizona to dump Pavel Datsyuk’s contract. Chychrun broke into the NHL immediately as an 18-year-old and scored 20 points and logged an average of 16:40 per game for the Coyotes in 2016-17.
Chychrun’s sophomore season was delayed by two months after an off-season training injury resulted in him having to undergo knee surgery. Chychrun made his debut in December and scored 14 points in 50 games before his season ultimately came to an end a few weeks early because of a lower-body injury.
In the off-season, Chychrun underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL. Chychrun made his 2018-19 debut on November 13, the same day that the Coyotes had announced that he had signed a six-year, $27.6 million contract extension.
Chychrun broke out as a top-pairing defender over the next couple of seasons. In 2019-20, Chychrun scored 26 points while logging 22:26 on Arizona’s blueline and he upped that in the pandemic-shortened 2021 season to 41 points and 23:23 per night in 56 games.

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The Coyotes started to sell off their team in the summer of 2021, as Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland were moved to the Vancouver Canucks and Christian Dvorak was dealt to the Montreal Canadiens. Given the long rebuild ahead, Chychrun requested a trade from the Coyotes to a contending team early in the 2021-22 season.
The reason that hasn’t happened yet is because Chychrun had a difficult campaign last season and the Coyotes are trying to maximize the return they can get. Chychrun was in the red 48-to-29 in terms of on-ice goal differential in 2021-22 and his season came to an end early because of yet another injury.
This one was an ankle injury and it required an operation to have bone spurs removed. Since he was already having one procedure done, Chychrun decided to also have surgery to repair a wrist injury that bothered him throughout the previous season. Teams naturally wanted to wait to see how he looked upon his return from two surgeries before pulling the trigger on a trade so Chychrun wasn’t moved during the summer.
Since making his debut for the 2022-23 season in November, Chychrun is playing like somebody who badly wants to get traded out of Arizona. Through 35 games, he has seven goals and 27 points, is logging 23:05 per night on average, and has a positive 32-to-24 goal differential at even-strength, which is wildly impressive given the Coyotes have been outscored 109-to-86 all told.

Would he be a good fit for the Oilers?

The Oilers need to upgrade their blueline, there’s no doubt about that, but the question is what kind of defender they should be looking for.
Earlier on in the season, a prevailing sentiment was that the Oilers missed Duncan Keith on the left side of the second pairing. Keith, who retired over the summer, brought a physical edge and a presence in front of the net that the team seemed to be missing as they bled goals against at even-strength and on the penalty kill.
The Oilers have tightened things up defensively over the past month and the conversation around them needing to trade for a shutdown defender has slowed down. It seems that role has been filled internally by Vincent Desharnais, who’s been rock-solid since being called up from AHL Bakersfield.
If Desharnais is the tough, physical, difficult-to-play-against defender the Oilers wanted and they don’t have to look for such a player externally, Holland can focus on using his assets to add the best available game-changing talent on the trade market.
The addition of Chychrun would give Edmonton a smart defender who moves and shoots the puck well to anchor their second pairing. Chychrun would take pressure off of Darnell Nurse to log as many minutes as he’s had to this season and could help the Oilers move the game in the right direction when Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl aren’t on the ice.
The biggest challenge, of course, is paying the price that the Coyotes are going to be asking.

What would the Coyotes want in return?

It isn’t often that you see 24-year-old defencemen signed to team-friendly contracts get moved in the current NHL so there aren’t really any worthwhile trade comparables to go off of. What we’ve been hearing for the past year-and-a-bit is that Arizona’s asking price for Chychrun would be based around two first-round pick equivalents and something else.
The Oilers haven’t traded their first-round pick in a mid-season deal since 2006 and Holland has only done so once in the salary cap era so acquiring Chychrun would be the biggest swing that the organization has seen in years. The fact that the Coyotes are apparently seeking draft picks rather than already-drafted prospects is a positive for the Oilers because it means they could likely make a Chychrun deal happen without moving Dylan Holloway or Philip Broberg, who are contributing to the team right now.
Another thing to consider for the Oilers is the money going out, as the team is pressed right to the salary cap ceiling. Adding Chychrun would shove one of Edmonton’s current defenders out of the lineup as well. You’d think one of those defencemen would be going back to the Coyotes in a Chychrun trade to make everything work, but who’s the odd man out?

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