NHL Rumor Mill – October 18, 2022
Why the time is now for the Coyotes to trade Jakob Chychrun, how a rising salary cap could make it easier for the Blackhawks to move Seth Jones and a look at which coaches are on the hot seat to start this season in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
THE TIME IS NOW TO MOVE CHYCHRUN
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Adam Proteau believes the Arizona Coyotes must move Jakob Chychrun now while his trade value remains high. He suggests the Ottawa Senators, Edmonton Oilers and Minnesota Wild as three potential destinations for the 24-year-old blueliner given their early-season defensive struggles.
The Senators can draw upon their young players and/or their stockpile of prospects and draft picks as trade bait. They also have almost enough cap space ($4.1 million) to take on Chychrun’s $4.6 million annual salary-cap hit. The Sens are holding firm to what they’re willing to part with but Proteau suggests that might change if the losses start piling up.
Chychrun’s size and hockey smarts could improve the Oilers’ blueline depth and lessen the pressure on their other defensemen. Proteau also wondered if Wild general manager Bill Guerin might step up to meet the Coyotes’ asking price though they’re in the middle of a salary-cap crunch. He’s got Matt Dumba eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer.
Proteau cautions that teams interested in Chychrun could turn to more affordable options later in the season if the Coyotes don’t lower their asking price. One of them could be the Anaheim Ducks’ John Klingberg as a playoff rental player.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators have been linked to Chychrun since July. Proteau cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting over the weekend that there currently isn’t a path for a deal but that could change once Chychrun returns from his wrist injury.
The Athletic’s Daniel Nugent-Bowman also suggested the Oilers could use a defenseman like Chychrun after watching their defense get picked apart by the Calgary Flames over the weekend. He believes adding a top blueliner needs to be GM Ken Holland’s priority before the trade deadline.
As for the Wild, their defense hasn’t been good but the goaltending of Marc-Andre Fleury and Filip Gustavsson has been brutal. Guerin might consider that to be a more pressing issue if things don’t improve soon.
As always, the two big stumbling blocks in a Chychrun trade are the Coyotes’ asking price and the rearguard’s injury history. Salary cap space is also an issue for some of the teams (like the Oilers and Wild) linked to him. Until one of those hurdles is overcome I don’t see Chychrun getting traded anytime soon.
COULD A RISING SALARY CAP MAKE SETH JONES’ CONTRACT EASIER TO MOVE?
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: With the NHL salary cap projected to rise to $92 million by 2025-26, Ben Pope suggests it could make Seth Jones’ contract easier for the rebuilding Blackhawks to build around or trade by 2025. The 28-year-old defenseman is in the first season of an eight-year deal with an average annual value of $9.5 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will depend on whether Jones is still playing at a level of performance that would entice other teams enough to take on his full cap hit. He would also have to be willing to waive his full no-movement clause. In the meantime, Jones isn’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future.
COACHES ON THE HOT SEAT
THE ATHLETIC: Sean Gentille believes the New Jersey Devils’ Lindy Ruff and the Anaheim Ducks’ Dallas Eakins could find themselves on the hot seat if their clubs haven’t improved in the coming weeks.
The Ducks picked up Eakins’ option year for this season but nothing beyond that. They’ve added some decent veterans (Frank Vatrano, Ryan Strome, John Klingberg) and have some promising young talent in Trevor Zegras, Jamie Drysdale and Mason McTavish. However, this is a rebuilding club expected to be bad again this season and that could make it tough for Eakins to maintain his job.
Ruff was booed when he was introduced during the Devils’ home opener on Saturday, which they lost 5-2. Gentille cites bad goaltending and some questionable lineup decisions behind the Devils’ woes. He also noted former Florida Panthers bench boss Andrew Brunette was hired this summer as Ruff’s assistant.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No rumors yet suggesting Eakins or Ruff (or any other NHL head coach) could soon lose their jobs. Nevertheless, this is something to keep an eye on in the coming weeks. Those two could certainly feel the heat if things don’t improve.