What Should a Jacob Chychrun Trade Look Like?

It's 2016, and the rebuilding Buffalo Sabres are on the clock at the NHL Draft. The "Next Chapter", is beginnig, and the Sabres are led by young guns Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart. They are a team on the rise. Should they bolster the blueline? Should they take a forward?

So many good options available to Tim Murray. How about Central Scouting's third ranked North American skater, Alex Nylander? How about Windsor Spitfires defenseman, Mikhail Sergachev, or Sarnia Sting defenseman Jacob Chychrun?

You know, that Tyson Jost kid looks pretty promising, what about him?

Fast forward six years later to 2022, and yet it was Alexander Nylander who was the pick, and is currently out of the NHL and playing for Wilkes-Barre Scranton in the AHL. Luckily, Jason Botterill was able to salvage some of that asset by flipping him for the 29th pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, Henri Jokiharju.

Chychrun would go to Arizona, and would turn into a big-minute eating defenseman in the league, playing 23 minutes a night on the top pair for the Coyotes, and when healthy sees time on the first power play unit as the lone defenseman. He's a throwback defenseman with a nice size/skill combination, and he's been wanting out of Arizona for quite some time.

Some have mentioned the Sabres as a potential destination.

What would such a trade require from the Sabres to get done?

First and foremost, the rumored asking price from Arizona has been something two-first round picks and a top prospect.
The Sabres can accommodate, but it's going to depend on who gets placed in such a deal.

Peyton Krebs is a Popular Name to Include From Fans

I have seen many people mock Peyton Krebs in such trades, and I know many will vehemently disagree, but I am not in favor of trading Krebs, and I am sure the Sabres are not trading Krebs either.

Do you want to know why they are not trading Krebs?

For the same reason that the Sabres didn't dump off Tage Thompson years ago, or expose him in the expansion draft, because, that would be a direct admission that you lost the Ryan O'Reilly deal. They would be giving up a key asset that made that deal possible.

The same is true for Peyton Krebs. I'm not saying Krebs is going to be as good as Thompson, but the fact is, people have forgotten that getting Krebs included in that Eichel trade, a player Vegas absolutely fought tooth and nail not to include in that trade, was the reason that deal ended up happening. It was not because of Alex Tuch, even though Tuch was a big part of it. Buffalo declines every single offer from Vegas that doesn't include Krebs.

Krebs is turning 22 in January. Thompson had 18 goals and 45 points in his first 145 games of his career, and didn't start to even show any flashes until after Ralph Kreuger was fired, and after the team lost Eichel to injury. They also moved Taylor Hall of the team, opening up more consistent minutes for him. He put it together at age 24, and with no more Sam Reinhart on the roster, who also was traded off the roster, the opportunity couldn’t have been bigger.

Tim Connolly and Olli Jokinen were other examples of late bloomers.

For Krebs, I believe part of the problem here is the competition for minutes has increased. Jack Quinn, and J.J Peterka challenged for roster spots, Victor Olafsson is still here, and the Casey Mittelstadt is still getting minutes, and the team is still committed to them. Olafsson was rewarded with a two-year extension, and Mittelstadt is still obviously a player the team wants to succeed due to his draft status, and potential trade value.

And the question is, where do the Sabres want Krebs? Do they see him as a center or a wing? He can play either spot, but it’s going to depend on his development, and who is still here. I think eventually, the team will need to move on from Olafsson and Mittelstadt for reasons i'll explain later, but for Krebs, no way I am giving up on him.

An Offer I'd be Comfortable With

Hypothetically speaking, if I am making deal for Jacob Chychrun, there are things I need to consider. You can't blame Arizona in asking for a new arena in return for Chychrun after what we went through with Eichel.

There are three main problems with a Chychrun deal for me; and that is: injuries, his fit here in the Sabres rebuild timeline and on the blueline, and his contract.

Chychrun has a substansial injury history which includes a torn meniscus, a torn ACL, a season ending ankle injury last season, among others, and the list gets longer with other ailments including shoulder ligament surgery, a concussion, and a couple wrist injuries.

If you go to resell a car and it has a couple accidents on record, chances are, that will ding your resale value, and the same is true here.

Second, where does he fit in Buffalo, and on the timeline?

In terms of on the blueline, how do the pairs work? It's pretty unanimous that Dahlin, Power, and then Sammuelson are the current big three on the blueline. Adding Chychrun would make your four best defenseman all lefties, with Jokiharju and Lybushkin the only two righties.

The pairs most likely would be this:


I would probably project Chychrun playing with Lybushkin, given that he has played with him before substantially in five on five situations. That would be your clear shut-down pair and could be a very tough duo to play against. However, the downside is, because he's playing with Lybushkin, as he did in Arizona, his complete lack of offense, that will hurt Chychrun's offensive output at even strength.

However, with Chychrun's cannon of a shot, you could use him on the first power play, to maximize his offensive output, although not many teams utilize two defenseman on the power play these days.

Some people will not like the idea of Sammuelson on the bottom pair, but the bottom pair right now is pretty fringe, and having Sammuelson and Jokiharju or Lybushkin as a duo in that role is a major upgrade. You could also do Sammuelson and Lybushkin as a bottom pair, and then utilize Chychrun with either Jokiharju, or Dahlin as an alternative.

The fit with the organization long term is a different story. Traditionally, acquiring him would go against Kevyn Adam's patience approach, and developing the kids.

The other hitch is his contract. While many have pointed out his cap hit is only 4.6 million which is a major plus, he's only signed for two more years after this season and then he's an unrestricted free agent. Will we even be able to keep him long term if we get him when we will inevitably have to extend Owen Power, and Rasmus Dahlin?

Chychrun would in turn very likely be a long term rental, but the goal would be to help a young team improve defensively, and take a step forward towards the goal of returning to the playoffs. Oh, lets not forget, Chychrun also has said he wants to join a playoff contender, but he does not have a no-trade clause.

Having said that, I would make an offer and that offer would keep in mind the injury history.

Buffalo gets: Jacob Chychrun and Barrett Hayton (or Christian Fischer)

Arizona gets: Isak Rosen (or Noah Ostlund), Casey Mittelstadt, Viktor Neuchev, a 2024 first round pick, and a 2023 second round pick (via Philly or Buffalo)

Analysis of the Offer

I wholeheartedly believe that Buffalo and Arizona would be perfect trading partners given that Arizona has a surplus of gritty, tough, defensively responsible players, and Buffalo has plenty of smaller skilled forwards who can compliment their roster and vice versa.

For me, the player I really want to be apart of a trade is Barrett Hayton. Hayton only has three points this season, and so far in his NHL career, he has underwhelmed from an offensive standpoint. He had 10 goals, 24 points last season in 60 games, and has 34 points in 114 NHL games and is 22 years old. Defensively, Hayton he is fundamentally strong in his own end.

He was overdrafted in 2018, and drew comparisons to Patrice Bergeron. He may never produce the offense Bergeron produces, but I can see him developing into a very strong defensive centerman who can play in tough situations, and provide a little grit to the lineup.

The way I see the Sabres right now is that they have two solid scoring lines, first with Skinner-Thompson-Tuch, and now Quinn-Cozens-Peterka is emerging as a solid trio.

However, the Mittelstadt and Olafsson line is the even strength weak link of this team, especially defensively. Olafsson is a one-trick pony, and granted it's a very nice trick, but playing on the perimeter and waiting for the big shot is not helping this team, or his linemates produce at 5 on 5, and he's not helping you win battles. Mittelstadt has actually been quite the asset on the power play as one of our top two scorers with Thompson. He's also improved on draws, and he's likely going to finish out close to 50 points.

In all-honestly, in Arizona, I believe he would thrive there. He would be their number one center, he'd would see more minutes, and he would have linemates who would compliment him with grit and two-way play.

Long term, I question the fit of Mittelstadt with Peyton Krebs still here, and with the freshly drafted Jiri Kulich and Noah Ostlund. Oh yeah, that Matt Savoie guy is pretty good too. But, this team needs more defensively responsible players, more grit, and more size, and Barrett Hayton does make sense to come the other way to fill a role the third line center or wing and to compete with Krebs. If the team also decides to move on from Victor Olafsson in the offseason or at the deadline, that would open an even bigger door for Peyton Krebs for more minutes.

Any 2023 first round pick will probably be untouchable for me given the strength of the draft. Isak Rosen or Noah Ostlund would be the first round prospect that most comfortable parting with, but I would push hard for Rosen. Jiri Kulich would probably be a player I'd want to keep around.

I’m sure Andre Tourginy would love to get his hands on his former Ottawa 67’s player, Jack Quinn, but I highly doubt that will be on the table,

Christian Fischer is another guy the Sabres could look at if they want to pry more than Chychrun from the Coyotes. He's a big 6'2, 215lb power forward, and penalty killing, defensive specialist. He's also a player that Don Granato coached in the U.S National Development program and we know how much the team loves bringing in these guys. He coached him for two years, along with Tage Thompson and Casey Fitzgerald.

Should they do it?

The main thing is, as you noticed, I spent a lot of time talking about Barrett Hayton, Christian Fischer, Victor Olafsson, and Casey Mittelstadt in my offer. The reason is because Chychrun is not going to be an automatic fix to this team's defensive woes, and the penalty killing woes. I am getting sick and tired of feeling like the opposing team's power play is an automatic goal at this point. I do think Mittelstadt is a nice player, but this team needs more defensively strong forwards, more grit, and be tougher to play against. The goaltending on the team also has it's moments where it leaves a lot to be desired for.

We need to mix up the batter of this team a little bit, and for me, because of their age, and because we have other younger options and plenty of skilled young forwards in the system, i'm ready to part with Mittelstadt and Olafsson, although because both guys are significant contributors on the Sabres power play, the team may be hesitant to move either guy, let alone both before the deadline, unless the team under took another losing streak and headed for the tank. In the summer, it might be a different story in terms of changing the makeup of the roster.

If Mittelstadt is moved, I can see Minnesota, Arizona (even without a Chychrun deal), and maybe Colorado as a darkhorse option if they desire a cheap center option, but he will not return anything astronomical like a first round pick unless he goes on a tear. Olafsson is tougher because while his numbers look good on paper, he's only going to be a fit for a team that's in the playoff mix, and needs scoring and in particularly, power play help, or a team looking to get to the cap floor who is intrigued, or rebuilding, but is also looking for an asset to flip. Maybe that's San Jose, and that's a stretch. I see the best fit here as being Winnipeg if I were speculating. A player like Mason Appleton who is hurt, but could be back after the deadline would be an interesting idea in a hockey trade to swap a penalty killer for a power play trigger man.

For Chychrun, personally, I would consider it, but I would lean no, mainly because i'm concerned about the injury history and asking price, which may come down. I also am guarded on trading a large amount of young assets and futures for a guy who might just walk into unrestricted free agency in a couple years. If the team somehow is close to a playoff spot, then I would consider it, and that would change things for sure. If they really want to improve defensively, there might be other cheaper options on the market that will cost less and be more practical.

This is a FanPost written by a member of the community. It does not necessarily express the views or opinions of Die By The Blade.