Well, it didn’t take long for the Bruins to be linked to another big name on the trade market.
After missing out on Bo Horvat, whom Boston reportedly had interest in, Don Sweeney’s new moonshot appears to be Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun, at least according to NHL insider Pierre LeBrun.
“The Boston Bruins are among the contenders of late that have also inquired with the Coyotes on the young defenseman,” LeBrun said Tuesday night on TSN’s “Insider Trading.” “So, something to keep an eye on.”
LeBrun named the Los Angeles Kings and Edmonton Oilers as other teams interested in Chychrun, and said that many around the league think the Kings make the most sense.
We included Chychrun, whom the Bruins have been linked to before, as one of our dream-big targets when we looked at some potential trade options for Boston earlier this week. Here’s what we wrote:
The same things that made Chychrun appealing when the Bruins were linked to him last year are still there: He’s a 24-year-old, 6-foot-2, top-pairing defenseman who can score and is on a team-friendly contract (two more years after this at a $4.6 million cap hit). The Bruins addressed their No. 1 left-shot D issue in both the short- and long-term by acquiring Hampus Lindholm last year. Giving up a massive haul (Arizona’s reported asking price is two first-round picks and a prospect) for another a year later seems unlikely, but the prospect of sending Lindholm and Chychrun over the boards one after the other for years to come is pretty tantalizing, and this is the “dreaming big” section after all.
After a down 2021-22 season that was marred by injury, Chychrun has bounced back nicely since returning from offseason wrist surgery. He has seven goals and 20 assists in 35 games, which ranks him 12th among all defensemen in points per game, two spots behind Charlie McAvoy. It’s also slightly ahead of Chychrun’s scoring rate from 2020-21, when he finished 10th in Norris Trophy voting.
His overall advanced metrics have also ticked back up towards his 2020-21 levels, and he’s been one of the lone bright spots on a bad Arizona team. Chychrun leads the Coyotes in Corsi-for percentage and goals-for percentage and ranks second in expected goals-for percentage.
If some of the numbers in the card above (where blue is good and red is bad) don’t totally blow you away, I would just point out that Lindholm’s advanced metrics over his last couple years in Anaheim weren’t blowing anyone away either. As much as all this stuff tries to account for team strength, we can’t ignore the fact that a player like Chychrun or Lindholm can make a big jump when they go from a bad team to a great one. And as with Lindholm, Chychrun’s talent and appeal is still evident when you watch him play.
All this said, the obvious sticking point for the Bruins when it comes to acquiring Chychrun is the cost -- not so much financially given Chychrun’s team-friendly contract, but in terms of the trade package. The Bruins have already gone without a first-round pick in three of the last five years due to other trades. They would be reluctant to give up two more for Chychrun.
They also don’t have the prospect pool to make up ground on a team like the Kings there. The Bruins had the 30th-ranked farm system in The Athletic’s recent rankings; Los Angeles ranked seventh.
Of course, Chychrun wouldn’t just be a rental win-now move. He’s already signed for two more years after this, and the Bruins could sign him to a long-term extension after that given that he’ll still be just 27 years old at that time.
Is Chychrun worth a truly all-in move? If LeBrun’s reporting is true -- and he’s certainly one of the national reporters worth trusting -- it seems like Sweeney and the Bruins are at least considering it.