Dissecting the Jakob Chychrun trade and the LA Kings-Coyotes fallout

Mar 2, 2023; New York, New York, USA; Ottawa Senators defenseman Jakob Chychrun (6) looks up ice during the first period against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 2, 2023; New York, New York, USA; Ottawa Senators defenseman Jakob Chychrun (6) looks up ice during the first period against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /

The NHL Trade Deadline officially passed seven days ago on March 3, 2023 at 3:00 PM. And a few weeks prior it appeared as if Jakob Chychrun to Los Angeles was a done deal. So, what happened?

The twenty-four year old left-shot defenseman had played in the Arizona Coyotes organization his entire career. Drafted in 2016 with the sixteenth overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft, Jakob Chychrun came onto the NHL scene early on as he played in 68 games for the Coyotes in the 2016-2017 season.

A perennial 20-point player for the first four seasons of his NHL career, Chychrun produced at a high level for an organization that has not been competed at a high level in a long time. With his level of production juxtaposed to his team’s level of production, he clearly did not fit the team’s success window. The 6-foot-2 defenseman is heading into his prime and the Coyotes are heading into the Connor Bedard sweepstakes.

So, when his named entered into the trade market conversation, no one was surprised. In large part due to the fact that his name has swirled in that conversation for a couple years but the Coyotes either never found the right trading partner or had a sky-high price to pay.

It became especially apparent heading into this year’s trade deadline that he be moved because Arizona is diving deeper and deeper into the beginning stages of a full-blown rebuild. As of now, the Coyotes have 37 picks in the next three drafts. If they only held their own picks over the next three years, they would only have 21 picks.

General Manager Bill Armstrong has added 16 more picks to the fold and only continues to seek to make his roster worse. Last year, in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, Arizona had two picks in the top eleven slots and used them to draft center Logan Cooley and center Conor Geekie. Those are two players that could turn into high-level NHL players one day down the road.

As more and more time passes, it became increasingly obvious that the Arizona Coyotes and Jakob Chychrun were going to part ways. 

That speculation became a reality when the Coyotes scratched him for “trade related reasons” back in early February. However, it wasn’t until March 1, 2023, that he was officially traded to the Ottawa Senators for a 2023 1st round pick (conditional), 2024 2nd round pick (conditional), and a 2026 2nd round pick.

A price of only three picks was mind-boggling to a lot of fans and media personnel, particularly because soon after he was scratched for trade-related reasons, he was rumored to be on the move to the Los Angeles Kings for a package centered around the highly-talented right-shot defenseman Brandt Clarke.

Unfortunately, nothing more materialized between the two parties that went further than that tweet, which led everyone to believe the Coyotes got fleeced in their deal with the Senators. That could certainly be the case from one vantage point, but from another vantage point: Bill Armstrong got exactly what he wanted. And that is no returning salary.

The Arizona Coyotes are in the middle of one of the most impressive tanking jobs I have ever seen. It would even make NHL 23 Franchise Mode rebuilders jealous, and Bill Armstrong is doing it in real time. Part of the reason why there is no doubt Arizona accepted this trade and not so many other offers was because they only got picks in return.

Having salaried players on the roster who can produce does not seem like something the Coyotes want at all. Plus, a package involving Brandt Clarke, one of the Kings’ brightest prospects, would be a hard pill for GM Rob Blake to swallow even if he were getting Jakob Chychrun in return. And this is where the fallout begins: a talented prospect for the Kings to give up and some sort of returning salary most likely is what caused the trade talks to stall and ultimately crumble.

On top of that, the only players that Arizona is coveting are players they can either fit into their three salary retention slots or are players on LTIR who most likely will never play the game of hockey again i.e. Shea Weber, Jakub Voracek, and Bryan Little.

The combination of all of these factors led to the contract talks stalling between the Los Angeles Kings and the Arizona Coyotes and unfortunately Jakob Chychrun is now donning an Ottawa Senators sweater. But, in an effort to buffer this loss, Rob Blake did swing and connect on a trade for defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov, who came over from the Columbus Blue Jackets.