The 2023 NHL trade deadline (March 3rd) is still a couple of days away, yet hockey fans across the globe are still trying to collect themselves after reading about the endless amounts of blockbuster trades announced thus far. Now, in one of the most incredible deals of the season, the Ottawa Senators acquired Jakob Chychrun from the Arizona Coyotes for a handful of draft picks.
Surprisingly, Chychrun had not played in a game since February 10th, when he became a healthy scratch for “trade-related” reasons. Ultimately, after missing almost a month of hockey for non-health-related issues, the veteran of 373 NHL games will need some time to adjust to new teammates and a new playing system.
Now that the consensus number-one player is off the Trade Bait Board, it is time to evaluate another blockbuster NHL trade.
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Winner: Jakob Chychrun’s name will no longer be in the rumor mill
Since the Coyotes came into existence in 1996, the franchise has yet to find success, advancing only to the Western Conference Final on one occasion. Ultimately, those results have left the Coyotes in a rebuild for over a decade, acquiring high-draft picks like Chychrun, the 16th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
Despite the turmoil in Arizona surrounding the team’s future in the state, management signed Chychrun to a six-year deal in 2019 at a bargain price of $4.6 million a season. However, without a successful product on the ice, the Coyotes have been shopping Chychrun since 2021, hoping to make a deal before 2023-24, when his modified no-trade clause kicks in.
As a premier defenseman on the market, Chychrun will spend the next two and half seasons in Ottawa, where he will not see his name on a trade bait list. Furthermore, this deal should relieve the stress associated with sitting out and considering relocation.
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Loser: The Coyotes waited years for three draft picks
As mentioned, the Coyotes started to ship Chychrun and his contract at the start of the 2021-22 season, meaning there’s been a handful of phone calls about the topic. After months of sifting through countless offers, team management settled on a deal with the Senators for three draft picks — a first-round and two second-round picks.
Considering how much Chychrun has meant to the Coyotes’ defensive corps, the team did not acquire a roster player or prospect to fill in the gaps this season. However, the plan moving forward will consist of minor league players getting a chance to earn a starting job on the big club; yet, anyone the Coyotes draft with these picks will be years away from competing for a regular NHL job.
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Winner: Senators find another building block for the future
In the recent offseason, the Senators surprised many by signing unrestricted free agent Claude Giroux to a three-year deal. Despite having one of the worse records in the league, the Senators did not embrace tanking and continued to find pieces to surround their young captain Brady Tkachuk.
Chychrun, who is just 24 years old, will join fellow young defenseman Thomas Chabot (26), Erik Brännström (23), and Jake Sanderson (20) in the Canadian capital as the building blocks for the franchise’s subsequent run at a Stanley Cup championship.
Interestingly, the Senators acquired an elite talent and only sacrificed two draft picks for the deal. Initially, the exchange’s conditional second-round pick in 2024 belonged to the Washington Capitals, so they didn’t offer any prospects or unload all their upcoming picks to improve their lineup drastically.
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Loser: NHL teams who inquired about Chychrun’s services
Anyone who browsed the hockey hot stove would have noticed that Chychrun could have joined the Los Angeles Kings, the Boston Bruins, the Edmonton Oilers, or anyone else looking for an upgrade on the back end. Now that one of the top trade targets is off the market, these teams, who were once interested, will scramble to figure out who else is available.
Now that Chychrun has found a home with the Senators, who are clawing for a playoff spot, many other teams in similar positions will hit the market and seek the next best option. Ultimately, adding a player with elite skills would have gone a long way to help the Kings or Oilers push for a division title or would have given the Bruins an unfair advantage heading into the playoffs as the league’s top team. Although Chychrun may not have fit those teams’ budgets, the experts felt all those rumors were legitimate.
Undoubtedly, the Senators shocked the hockey world by acquiring Chychrun, considering the team is five points out of a wild card spot, and many experts were still deciding whether they would be buyers or sellers when the deal went through. Now, the Senators are going all-in to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2017. Considering the franchise is for sale, this year’s success will help any potential deal possibly involving Hollywood actor Ryan Reynolds from Vancouver, British Columbia.
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