Jakob Chychrun trade watch: Coyotes defenseman scratched again with deal looming

Chychrun is a 24-year-old defender capable of logging top-pair minutes, has two years of team control remaining, and is capable at both ends of the ice.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun will remain out of the lineup until his team can find a trade partner.

Chychrun has been on the trade block for the duration of the 2022-23 season and the Coyotes are looking to move him before the March 3 deadline. The 24-year-old has two years remaining on his contract at $4.6 million per season, but has made it clear he doesn’t want to remain with the Coyotes long-term.

It is widely reported that the Coyotes are expecting two first-round picks plus a top prospect in exchange for Chychrun, although it’s entirely possible this asking price is in flux as the deadline inches closer.

Monday's matchup with the Nashville Predators will mark the second consecutive game in which Arizona has opted to hold him out for "trade-related reasons."

Chychrun has recorded seven goals and 21 assists in 36 games this season. He is the best defenseman considered to be available ahead of the trade deadline, so here’s the latest on the prized Coyotes star, who is capable of playing both sides of the ice.

Kings enter the sweepstakes but reach impasse with Coyotes

It briefly appeared over the weekend that Chychrun would be on the move to the Los Angeles Kings. Los Angeles boasts one of the deepest prospect pools in the NHL and has plenty of assets Arizona would covet as it surely enters another prolonged rebuild with the hope of landing a top pick from this summer’s banner draft class.

It was rumoured that Brandt Clarke, the eighth-overall selection from the 2021 Draft, would be the centerpiece of any Kings deal for Chychrun. This idea has been refuted by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, who reported on an impasse between both the Kings and Coyotes, while noting that a trade hasn’t been ruled out.

"I think somewhere between the Kings and Coyotes there was a snag,” Friedman said on Monday’s 32 Thoughts podcast. “That doesn't mean it's impossible, that doesn't mean it can't happen, but I think there was some snag. I think what the snag may have been is that the Kings and Coyotes were talking about a contract that needed to be moved and they couldn't agree. I don't think it was one of the principal members of the trade, but potentially an ancillary member of the trade."

Friedman noted that Clarke and Quinton Byfield, the second-overall selection from the 2020 Draft, will not be included in any potential deal for Chychrun.

Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff reported Monday that the Coyotes are willing to retain part of Chychrun’s salary — a major development that ought to easily facilitate a trade and invite a ton of new suitors. Friedman reported on 32 Thoughts that a number of teams that previously weren’t in the mix have expressed interest in potentially acquiring Chychrun. While they weren’t named, it is believed that Boston, Toronto and Edmonton are among his primary suitors.

Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek reported during Hockey Night in Canada that Toronto and Edmonton wouldn’t be involved. For now — and take this with a grain of salt — it appears Los Angeles and Boston are in the lead for Chychrun, while other teams mull over a few Hail Mary offers for the versatile defender.

Jakob Chychrun continues to watch from the sidelines as the Coyotes look to trade him. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)
Jakob Chychrun continues to watch from the sidelines as the Coyotes look to trade him. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

Is Chychrun worth a king’s ransom?

Chychrun is a 24-year-old defender capable of logging top-pair minutes, has two years of team control, and is capable at both ends of the ice. These qualities alone would make him worthy of the interest he’s commanded all season. A top-pair defenseman entering his prime rarely hits the trade market and top contenders ought to pounce.

Chychrun has logged 663:04 minutes at 5-on-5 this season over the course of 36 games and has posted a career-best 50.41 Corsi For percentage, per Natural Stat Trick. He’s been on the ice for 35 goals for versus 25 against. Chychrun has been primarily paired alongside Shayne Gostisbehere, logging 525:14 at 5-on-5, making them the 19th most-used defensive duo in the NHL. Chychrun-Gostisbehere have posted some underwhelming underlying numbers, though: 49 percent Corsi, 45.7 percent expected goals, while being on the ice for 28 goals versus 19 against.

It's this last number that might be most telling. Plus-minus is a functionally useless stat, but when you’re playing on a team that has no intention of winning, it’s clear that Chychrun is subject to immediate improvement with better linemates. He’s playing over 23 minutes per game and if he goes to a contender, he’ll almost certainly face a decreased workload, while being allowed to flourish offensively.

Chychrun has a cannon of a shot, he’s an underrated skater and playmaker, and the Bruins, Maple Leafs, Oilers or Kings would all be markedly improved if he joins their team ahead of the deadline.

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