Should and can the Montreal Canadiens be in on Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun on the NHL trade market?
The Habs did not make any trades or coaching changes during their bye week and All-Star break. Amidst a firestorm of NHL trade speculation and question marks about the job security of Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme as they headed into the past week, general manager Kent Hughes and executive vice president of hockey operations Jeff Gorton ended up standing pat as of Sunday night. Instead of beginning the still expected changes to the roster, they took the week to evaluate their roster and coaching situation, and according to one NHL source, made plenty of calls to gauge the NHL trade market as the March 21 NHL trade deadline approaches.
“They were busy, I can tell you that,” the source told Montreal Hockey Now Sunday night. “I’m sure you know already but they’re not just going to have some free-for-all firesale. There’s pieces in place and it’s just been one of those years, as you can attest ‘Murphy’s Law’ exists and it hit the Habs badly this year. What I do think will surprise a lot of people is the hockey trades they may make. Not just player for picks and prospects coming back to Montreal, but player for player and money for money. From what I’m hearing this could be more of a retool.”
If that is indeed the game plan for Gorton, Hughes, on the NHL trade market, then don’t they at least have to explore if they can somehow meet the price for Chychrun who by all accounts will cost two former first round picks and a [future] first round selection?
Chychrun would come with a team-friendly contract as he is locked in for another two seasons at $4.6 million. That’s why there’s a list of teams in the hunt with the Florida Panthers, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers leading the way according to numerous reports, and NHL trade chatter. According to numerous NHL sources the Los Angeles Kings are a dark horse, and the Detroit Red Wings, Carolina Hurricanes, Buffalo Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers, and New Jersey Devils could all be in the mix as well.
There’s a solid chance that the Canadiens will move at least two left-shot defensemen in Ben Chiarot and Brett Kulak, both impending unrestricted free agents before the NHL trade deadline. On the right side, veteran defenseman Jeff Petry is all but a goner by the deadline, if not much sooner. Add in that the Habs will likely trade forward Artturi Lehkonen as well and that right there frees up $13.8 million in salary-cap space for the Canadiens.
So why shouldn’t Gorton and Hughes at least get in there ASAP before Chychrun is dealt on the NHL trade market and see if they can get creative to acquire the 6-foot-2, 210-pound, left-shot rearguard from Boca Raton, Florida?
“The main issue here is the draft is in Montreal. …well maybe,” the source above pointed out. “There is no way the Habs are hosting a draft without potentially the No. 1 pick in the draft and preferably another first-rounder.”
What if the Canadiens could acquire another first-rounder in the next week or two and then try and pitch the Coyotes on a trade for Chychrun?
“I’d say then you’re potentially in business,” the source said.
The Coyotes are reportedly willing to take on cap space, so if the Canadiens could get that first round pick in a trade for Chiarot soon, could they offer a package of forwards Jonathan Drouin (one year left at $5.5) and Ryan Poehling and defensemen Logan Mailloux?
“Now you’re talking,” the source said. “And while yeah, he’s got baggage, if you’re offering the raw talent in Mailloux, well maybe you change the first-rounder you give to 2023?”