NHL Rumor Mill – April 25, 2022
An update on Jakob Chychrun plus the latest on the Blackhawks plus in today’s NHL rumor mill.
GOPHNX.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Craig Morgan was asked about Jakob Chychrun’s future with the Arizona Coyotes. He believes once rumors got out that teams were calling about the 24-year-old defenseman that his camp became open to the idea of a trade.
Morgan doesn’t think Chychrun, who’s signed through 2024-25, wants to sacrifice three seasons of his playing prime in a rebuild. He doesn’t see Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong budging from his high asking price. If teams aren’t willing to pay it this summer (and Chychrun’s subpar season didn’t help), Armstrong won’t trade him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The passing of last month’s NHL trade deadline brought an end to the seemingly endless Chychrun trade speculation that had been ongoing since last fall. Things are quiet now but we can expect the rumors to ramp up again as teams are eliminated from the playoffs, reaching another fever pitch approaching the 2022 NHL Draft on July 7 and 8.
Despite the decline in Chychrun’s production this season, his age, puck-moving skills and affordable $4.6 million contract will ensure he remains an attractive trade candidate this summer. A number of the clubs that were linked to him before the trade deadline, such as the Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues could revisit their interest when the offseason begins.
THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers recently speculated over the potential rebuilding plans of Chicago Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson in the upcoming offseason. If they end up with one of the top two picks in this year’s draft following next month’s draft lottery and send their 2023 first-round to Columbus as part of the Seth Jones trade, perhaps Davidson will have some incentive to improve the club next season. He won’t want that pick to turn into a generational talent for the Jackets if he tanked next season.
On the other hand, if the Blackhawks don’t get that top-two placement and send their 2022 pick to the Blue Jackets, Davidson could commence a major teardown to improve his club’s chances of winning next year’s draft lottery. That could mean letting restricted free agents Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome walk this summer without bringing in top-six forwards to replace them.
A league source told Powers they wouldn’t be shocked if Davidson shopped Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat this summer. However, there’s no indication the Blackhawks GM has any plans to do that. Davidson is expected to meet with Pat Brisson, the agent for Kane and team captain Jonathan Toews, to discuss his offseason plans.
Johnson is signed through 2023-24 with an annual average value of $5 million. He could fill a veteran leader role if Toews and/or Kane decide to move on from the Blackhawks. Otherwise, Davidson could attempt to move Johnson via trade or buy out the remainder of his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks will be one of the clubs worth watching during this offseason. Big changes could be in the works that might involve a core player like Toews, Kane or DeBrincat moving on. Davidson won’t shop those guys just for the sake of making changes. However, as we saw with the Brandon Hagel trade, he’ll be willing to move those players for the right offer.
Toews and Kane are in the final seasons of their respective contracts with $10.5-million annual cap hits and full no-movement clauses. DeBrincat is a year away from becoming a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. He has a $6.4-million annual cap hit and lacks no-trade protection but is slated to earn $9 million in actual salary next season.
Johnson’s decline in production and injury history could make him a tough sell in this summer’s trade market. He also has a 20-team list of preferred trade destinations. Cap Friendly shows a buyout will count as over $2.6 million next season, $1.66 million in 2023-24, followed by over $1.46 million for each of the final two years.