Coyotes scratch Jakob Chychrun for 'trade related reasons'

The Arizona Coyotes scratched star defenseman Jakob Chychrun for Saturday’s game against the St. Louis Blues for “trade related reasons.” (Getty Images)

The Arizona Coyotes raised some eyebrows by not only making Jakob Chychrun a healthy scratch on Saturday, but admitted that they’re doing so for “trade-related reasons.”

Does this mean a Jakob Chychrun trade will break as soon as Saturday night? Perhaps. It’s also possible that this is an opportunity to drive up the bidding war just a bit more before pulling the trigger — while avoiding it all falling apart because of an injury in a meaningless game for the Coyotes.

PHNX Sports’ Craig Morgan doesn’t necessarily think a trade is imminent, but admits it could happen before the Coyotes’ next game on Monday.

Morgan lists the Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, and Toronto Maple Leafs among the teams interested in a possible Chychrun trade.

That list covers some of the top 2022-23 contenders who’d be interested in a Chychrun trade. Fascinatingly, you could expand the case beyond clearer contenders. Yes, this has been a disappointing season for the Ottawa Senators, but a defenseman like Chychrun could be viewed as one of the last pieces of the puzzle. You could apply similar logic to the Buffalo Sabres, who are skyrocketing up the ranks and thus may see their window of opportunity lining up with the 24-year-old defenseman’s prime years.

A team trading for Chychrun wouldn’t be settling for a “rental.” The big, volume-shooting blueliner carries a thrifty $4.6 million through the 2024-25 season. Sure, up to three playoff runs with Chychrun on such an affordable cap hit would appeal most immediately to a team near the top, but you can see why his contract deepens the pool of possible suitors.

Granted, the Coyotes are aware of that perceived value. For months, reporters such as The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun noted that Arizona has been looking for a trade return along the lines of two first-round picks and a prospect for Chychrun.

By deciding to make Chychrun a healthy scratch, is this a signal that the Coyotes are closing in on the sort of trade deal that would align with those demands? Could it be that they’ve softened their approach, or maybe it’s somewhere in between?

This should be a fascinating situation to watch, right down to the actual value of Chychrun himself. You can talk yourself into a towering defenseman with the scoring ability to notch 18 goals and 41 points in just 56 games back in 2020-21, not to mention a nice scoring pace (seven goals, 28 points in 36 contests) this season.

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