While many may have expected Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun to be among the bigger names moved on trade deadline day on Monday, that did not happen. Chychrun remained a Coyote, and he will likely re-enter the trade conversation after this season concludes and the offseason enters full swing. Teams typically prefer to make more significant trades in the offseason, because the market for the player being shopped is generally larger. Less teams are willing to take a sledgehammer to their roster to be able to pay the price for a significant player when they are in the middle of their season, so it makes sense that Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong would wait until this summer to sell his biggest trade asset. But despite that strategy making sense, it may not have been the preferred route for all parties involved. According to Craig Morgan of PHNX.com (subscription required) Chychrun “welcomed” the idea of being traded to another club at the deadline and was “disappointed” that no deal was eventually reached.
While that may come as a surprise to some observers, just one look at the NHL’s standings could explain his reported stance more clearly. With the Montreal Canadiens’ win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Coyotes now sit last in the NHL with a 20-40-4 record. Armstrong has taken a no-holds-barred approach to rebuilding the team, and that approach means the Coyotes could be a few seasons away from truly focusing on winning. Morgan reports that Chychrun “wants to win now” and as a result, this approach Armstrong is taking is unlikely one that Chychrun would like to be around for the long haul. Morgan also states that Chychrun has “become unhappy” with his utilization and role under coach Andre Tourigny, which could also factor into his willingness to depart the Coyotes.
Given his success last season (he scored 18 goals and 41 points in the shortened 56-game season) and his relative youth (he is only 23 years old) there are many who believe that Chychrun is the kind of player the Coyotes should be building around, rather than trading. But Armstrong’s modus operandi for his entire tenure as Coyotes GM has been to extract as much long-term value as possible from players, and a player like Chychrun represents an extremely attractive trade asset from his perspective. If NHL clubs traded significant future assets for rental defensemen like Ben Chiarot at this deadline, Armstrong has to be expecting teams to offer significant packages for Chychrun, who is on a bargain $4.6MM AAV contract that runs through the 2024-25 season. If Armstrong is all-in on his rebuild of the Coyotes, entertaining an offseason bidding war for Chychrun is the sort of move that fits his plan perfectly. So, given Morgan’s recent reporting on Chychrun’s frame of mind on his future, it seems as though that sort of offseason trade sweepstakes is something Chychrun would welcome as well.