As we inch closer and closer to the NHL Trade Deadline, rumors are swirling about the landing spot for Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun. He was held out of the Coyotes lineup on Saturday for “trade-related” purposes, as a trade seems imminent.
Two NHL sources told NYI Hockey Now that the New York Islanders are not believed to be in the running for the 24-year-old.
One source said, “I’m hearing the Los Angeles Kings or Buffalo Sabres,” while the other source added that the Islanders do not have the pieces to compete with the other teams involved.
Boston Hockey Now’s Jimmy Murphy reported Saturday that the Boston Bruins were still involved.
After the last two games, it’s clear that the Islanders needed help on the backend, but parting ways with more picks and more prospects, for a team not in a playoff spot is a sure gamble, despite two years of control.
According to Pierre LeBrun, the asking price for Chychrun is two first-round draft picks and a prospect, him naming the Bruins, Edmonton Oilers, and the Kings.
Los Angeles seems to be the front-runners and could have a deal already in place per player turned inside Nick Kypreos, who shared Sunday that the deal is centering around defenseman Brandt Clarke, their eighth overall pick from 2021.
— Nick Kypreos (@RealKyper) February 12, 2023
Clarke, 20, started the season with the Kings, playing nine games with two assists before being sent to the Ontario Reign of the AHL, where he played five games with a goal and an assist.
On Jan. 6, Clarke was sent back to the Eerie Otters (OHL) and will remain there to continue his development for the rest of the 2022-23 campaign.
If Kypreos is correct, it shouldn’t be a shock that the Islanders cannot compete with that, as most teams couldn’t.
The Islanders sent their 2023 first-round draft pick (conditional) along with top prospect Aatu Räty to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for Bo Horvat. The Islanders’ top prospect, albeit a potential top pick at one point, was taken 52nd overall back in 2021 and is anything but a sure bet to be a legitimate NHLer despite playing well in his first 12 games at the NHL level.
The Islanders could still trade their 2024 first-round pick, but if they found a way to land a pick in the top 12 at this upcoming draft, Vancouver would get their 2024 first-round pick, and the other team would get the Islanders’ 2025 first-rounder.
While picks are picks, the 2023 NHL Draft is projected to be one of the deepest drafts in years, and the Coyotes are rebuilding and trying to capitalize on their most significant asset.
As for prospects, the Islanders’ top one is 21-year-old William Dufour, who the Islanders took with the 152nd pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. He made his NHL debut this season, but it was a disaster, and quite frankly, the franchise put him in a challenging position as it was clear he was not ready.
In 45 games with the Bridgeport Islanders (AHL) this season, the big-body sniper has 15 goals and 13 assists.
Now, the Islanders could move an NHL-ready player like Noah Dobson, who has struggled defensively despite his offensive production. While Chychrun may have a higher ceiling, and the Islanders could use an upgrade on defense, one of the best transitioners in the sport, parting ways with the 23-year-old doesn’t seem to be in the cards for New York.
Even if it was, Chychrun is a stronger player for the same salary-cap hit of $4.6 million.
As for if the Islanders were ever involved in the Jakob Chychrun sweepstakes, to begin with, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman shared on Jan. 24 that the Islanders were looking around at him.
He further stated that Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello found the asking price “to be outrageous.” Still, actions always speak louder than words, with the Hall of Fame general manager who shared that Horvat’s extension was “too long” and for “too much money”.
Jakob Chychrun has been on the trading block for what seems like an eternity. During the 2021-22 season, the now 24-year-old defenseman and the organization believed going their separate ways would be best, but due to injury and asking price, he was not moved at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline, the 2022 NHL Draft, or during the offseason.
But now it seems like a deal will actually happen, and both sides can finally move on.
In 36 games with Arizona, Chychrun has seven goals and 21 assists and has two more years of team control before becoming an unrestricted free agent following the 2024-25 season, per CapFriendly.