SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jakob Chychrun said he still wants to be traded from the Arizona Coyotes, but the 24-year-old defenseman remains on their roster with training camp set to open Thursday.
Chychrun said he and the Coyotes agreed early last season it was best for each party that he be traded, but that did not happen prior to the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline, during the 2022 NHL Draft or in an offseason when Chychrun had surgery on his wrist. and ankle. He is expected to be ready when Arizona opens the season at the Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 13.
Chychrun has not backed off his request, but there is no clear sign as to when the Coyotes will fulfill it; Arizona finished 25-50-7 last season, last in the Central Division, and has failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in nine of the past 10 seasons.
“The team approached me a couple of times, one before that [2021-22 season]one early in the season and we just had discussions about where I was mentally and where the team was at,” Chychrun said Wednesday, with the Coyotes having physicals and team meetings. “Knowing the type of competitor and person that I am, they indicated if this rebuild was going to be hard or difficult on me that, if I wanted to be in a different situation, they were going to be willing to and make that happen.
“[I] decided to take them up on that offer and try to move on to a better situation [because of] my desire to win in this league. Careers are so short, the time flies by, and I’m in my seventh year in the NHL. It’s just crazy.
“I don’t want these years to keep going by and be 10, 12 years in and not have a real good chance at not only the playoffs, but winning the Stanley Cup. That’s really my mentality and where I’m at and I think the team understands that, to get moved to a situation with a chance to win and a team that’s fighting for the Stanley Cup.”
Arizona would likely seek a substantial package in return, at least one proven player and multiple draft picks, for Chychrun, who had 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists) in 47 games last season and led NHL defensemen with 18 goals in 2020-21. . It could help that Chychrun has a relatively affordable contract: He is owed $4.6 million for each of the next three seasons.
“Well, if you think about it, he’s a No. 1 [defenseman] … with a team-friendly contract and someone that generated 18 goals the year before, so he has a lot of impact on your team,” Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong said in March. “You’d be crazy to move him unless it moved your team forward.”
Arizona’s 57 points last season were the second fewest in the NHL to the Montreal Canadiens’ 55.
“I understand how rebuilds work,” Chychrun said. “I think it (a trade) could be mutually beneficial.”
When Chychrun was rehabbing an ankle injury he sustained on March 12, doctors discovered a bone spur in the ankle that needed to be removed. Because he was already having one operation, Chychrun decided to also have surgery to repair a wrist injury that bothered him throughout last season.
Chychrun won’t be on the ice when the Coyotes open camp Thursday because he hasn’t been cleared to shoot.
Regardless of where Chychrun plays, he expects to have a bounce-back season. He had an NHL career-high 41 points (18 goals, 23 assists) in 56 games in 2020-21, and has 142 points (53 goals, 89 assists) in 337 NHL games through six seasons with Arizona, which selected him in the first round (No. 16) of the 2016 NHL Draft.
“Things are feeling really good,” he said. “I’m in a really good place mentally. Physically, I feel like I’m in phenomenal shape and I’m just ready to keep ramping up.”