NHL Rumor Mill – September 29, 2022
Recent speculation on Jakob Chychrun and Matt Dumba plus the latest on the Senators in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Due to the five days I was sidelined by Hurricane Fiona I’m forced to play catch-up regarding NHL trade and free agent speculation. Please bear with me here as I make note of the recent notable rumors plus some more recent chatter. Cheers!
BLUES, SENATORS BELIEVED INTERESTED IN CHYCHRUN
SPORTSNET: In the latest “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman reported his belief the St. Louis Blues were interested in defenseman Jakob Chychrun and could continue to monitor the 24-year-old defenseman’s status with the Arizona Coyotes.
Friedman also felt the Ottawa Senators may have had an interest in Chychrun during the summer. However, he doesn’t believe anything was close. The Coyotes liked young center Shane Pinto but the Senators aren’t willing to part with him.
Chychrun’s injury history is a concern. Friedman cited one team telling him Ryan Ellis’ situation with the Philadelphia Flyers has “sent a chill” throughout the league. Teams could be concerned about acquiring Chychrun only to have him face a potentially career-threatening injury.
GOPHNX.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Craig Morgan said Chychrun is a wild card for the Coyotes as this season approaches. He’s not sure if the sidelined blueliner will be ready in time for the start of the season or if he’ll be traded by that point.
Morgan reiterated that Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong isn’t going to sell off Chychrun at a bargain rate. If the rearguard wants to be traded he’ll have to play his way off the team.
In other words, Morgan believes teams want to see how well he performs once he returns from his injury. He also dismissed rumors out of Ottawa as he believes they’re not checking the facts in Arizona.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think there are teams looking at acquiring Chychrun who want to see how he plays this season before making a big commitment to acquire him. That’s certainly understandable given Ellis’ situation with the Flyers.
Nevertheless, I still believe those interested parties will want Armstrong to lower his asking price. I’m not saying he has to accept a pittance for a return but Chychrun’s injury history hurts his trade value.
Even if he stays healthy throughout the remainder of this season and puts up impressive numbers, I can’t see the Coyotes getting a king’s ransom in return. At some point, Armstrong might have to bend a bit to prevent this situation from becoming more of a distraction than it already is.
DUMBA BACK IN THE RUMOR MILL?
THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo recently reported Matt Dumba’s unrestricted free agent status next summer combined with the Minnesota Wild’s limited salary-cap space for 2023-24 could lead to the 28-year-old defenseman getting traded this season. The club has a growing pool of defense prospects that could make him less enticing to retain.
Dumba carries an average annual value of $6 million but will earn $5.2 million in actual value this season. He claims to be unconcerned about the speculation over his future, pointing out he’s frequently surfaced in media trade rumors in recent years. Nevertheless, Russo suggests the defenseman could be shopped by the March 3 trade deadline if the Wild are out of the playoff race by then.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Then again, Wild GM Bill Guerin could retain Dumba as an “own rental” if he’s playing well and the Wild look poised for a deep playoff run. It will be interesting to see how his situation pans out. Unless Guerin sheds a lot of salary before July 1 to re-sign Dumba, this could be the latter’s final season in Minnesota.
WILL THE SENATORS MOVE ZAITSEV?
OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren wonders if there will be spots for Nikita Zaitsev and Erik Brannstrom on the Senators’ blueline. Zaitsev, 30, struggled last season with multiple defense partners and management attempted to trade him during the summer.
Zaitsev’s remaining contract is an issue. After receiving his $2 million signing bonus this summer, he’s earning $2.5 million in actual salary. He’s due the same bonus and actual salary for 2023-24.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Warren also suggested Zaitsev could end up on waivers but I doubt a club will claim him unless it’s a team desperate to reach the cap minimum. Even then, that’s not a certainty. The combination of his struggles and salary make him difficult to move.
Welcome back, Lyle.
There is no doubt that Zaitsev’s future with Ottawa is tenuous at best … but as to his obvious struggles last season, it turns out there was a valid reason. A couple of weeks back coach D.J. Smith revealed that Zaitsev had toughed out a cracked heel which hampered him most of the year and affected his ability to make certain turns quickly and made sudden stops painful.
Let’s just see how he plays once the new season begins – that is, IF he’s able to crack the top 6. Early assessment on the play of each of Bernard-Docker, Thompson and, perhaps surprisingly, Maxence Guenette, suggest one among them could make the cut, suggesting a D line-up of
Chabot – Zub
Sanderson – Hamonic
Holden – (one of the above or Zaitsev)
Of course, playing two rookies on D is always a huge gamble and this could change in a flash with one positive phone call as some teams still face the necessity to clear cap space in order to get under the limit, and who don’t have an LTIR on hand to bail them out.
Welcome back Lyle.
Speaking of actual salary, Chychrun makes 4m this season, which is below his AAV of 4.6m It goes up to 5.4m next year and a whopping 7m the year after. Important for a franchise that’ll have revenue issues the next few years. Add to that he has a 10 team ntc kicking in next year. There’s no reason for a team to overpay right now. I still say watch NYR. They’re having open competition right now for extra D spots. Drury will wait and see if young guys step up. Everyone will wait and see if Chychrun comes back and stays healthy. Reminder, he’s only 24. I don’t see him having career threatening issues.
I don’t know, Slick62, how to differentiate between “career threatening issues” and being “injury prone.”
In his rookie season he had surgery for a torn ligament in his left shoulder, then tore his left-knee meniscus followed by a torn right-knee ACL, and now he’s missing camp recovering from an ankle injury.
At what point does a team decide between whether it’s all due to “bad luck” or he’s simply one of those destined to be sidelined by something new? (there have been others in the league over the years projected to be “stars” who just could not get past the repeated and different injury bug – e.g. Kariya).
That’s a big gamble for any team to fork over what Armstrong seems to be demanding.
Whenever I think of players that could have ben stars except they were made of glass….I often think of Pascal Leclaire. Brilliant goalie when healthy… but that amounted to only a fraction of games. Ottawa gambled on that one and lost.
George, I was referring to the comparison to Ellis as far as “career threatening”. Ellis has a rare injury that’s a affecting his back, hip, and abdomen. They’re not even sure how to fix it and at age 31 he’s probably done with hockey. At 24, Chychrun has had a series of injuries and that’s why I said I don’t see anyone meeting the asking price that Arizona has supposedly set. I do believe he’ll definately be dealt before seasons over, but Not until teams are comfortable moving forward with his health.
theSaint, yeah, how could I forget Pascal. If there were no such things as IR and LTIR they would have had to invent them for him.
Slick62 – I was just referring to your statement ” I don’t see him having career threatening issues” when I wrote “I don’t know … how to differentiate between “career threatening issues” and being “injury prone.”
Career-threatening ones like that of Ellis usually means going on LTIR for the life of the contract, hopefully covered by insurance … and a team no longer has the skills he brought to the game. Being a Chychrun who’s available only 73% of the time and is costing almost $5 mil off the cap means a team is constantly juggling their D pairings. Not as bad – sure – but at the same time not ideal for team cohesiveness.
As a GM I’d hope to avoid either.
Slick I think you pinpointed the issue with Chychrun is his scorpion type contract…ie once this deal is done, to qualify him, it will be north of $8m per. Maybe that might not be bad by then maybe it might be more than you value him at then.
Good morning Lyle. I’m taking a break from here – too much time spent on the internet – but wanted to send wishes to all you East Coasters after that nasty storm, and to say I’m glad you and your family made it through.
Best wishes going forward.
If Ottawa lands Chychrun watch George attempt a reverse quadruple from the pike position.
LOL. I had to look that up. No, Rick, what I’d be doing as I watched the games is waiting for the other shoe to drop. And from what has gone down so far in his young career with injuries seemingly to everything by his “vital” parts I’d say that is inevitable.
I’d be in traction for a year
As would I. I’m not a senior citizen yet but, some mornings I feel like one. You know what I never knew Chychrun was so injury prone. Yeez too bad very talented player.
I really feel like the Sens kicked the tires of Chychrun and then moved on. A rookie pairing would be more solid than this guy.
Saw this on Facebook – I assume it refers to what the players listed will actually receive in salary as opposed to cap hits – I see 3 I would hope to avoid for sure if I were an owner