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Is Defenceman Jakob Chychrun Truly a Fit in Ottawa or Not?

For the last six months, the one NHL player name mentioned in the Ottawa hockey market

more than anyone else has been Jakob Chychrun.

The Arizona Coyotes have made him available to any suitors who are interested and Chychrun’s camp has also expressed a desire to move on.

Creator: Norm Hall | Credit: NHL via Getty Images Copyright: 2022 NHL

The contract being taken on would be very friendly at an AAV of $4.6 million prorated for the

remainder of this season and the next two seasons as well. He would be a UFA at that point.

The ask price being reported starts at two first round picks and a combination of picks and/or

prospects. This seemed absolutely ludicrous to me for a player that was injured and hadn’t

played since March 12th of last season.

Now that he is back and has recorded seven points in eight games and is showing no ill effects

of his ankle injury and off-season wrist surgery, that kind of bounty doesn’t seem as unlikely


The question(s) facing Sens GM Pierre Dorion are:

1) Are the Senators interested in this player?

2) Would he help move the Senators from playoff pretenders to contenders?

3) What else would they need to get back to make this work?

4) How would his arrival upset the internal chemistry and development of other


5) How badly do they want him?

6) What is the likelihood that Chychrun would want to resign after the 2024-25


Another legitimate question would be, now that the Senators are up for sale, how much

latitude does Pierre Dorion have to make a move like this even if he wanted to?

The desire was to compete for a playoff spot this season. We’ll assume it still is for the

purposes of this discussion and that a deal could be done if it made sense.

The answer to question 1 above is fairly obvious.

Every team looking to improve their blueline would be interested in a player like this assuming

they could make the cap situation work and the Senators are in an enviable position with nearly

$3.4 million in cap room to spare this season. Chychrun could be taken on without moving any

money and still be cap compliant this season assuming the board approves the additional


However, with Tim Stutzle’s new contract starting next year, Alex DeBrincat needing a

qualifying offer of at least $9 million, as well as extensions needed for Shane Pinto, Artem Zub,

Jacob Bernard-Docker and Lassi Thomson, the CAPROBATICS needed to have a deal like this

make sense are evident.

The answer to question 2 might seem obvious. Would he make a difference? Of course, he

would. From a slotting perspective, players like Travis Hamonic, Erik Brannstrom, Nick Holden

and yes, Nikita Zaitsev would play more digestible minutes and, ideally, Thomas Chabot would

play fewer minutes that would allow him to play at the pace he needs to be at to be at the top

of his game.

Would that get the Senators to the playoffs? That much is debatable. Though he would be a

solid addition, Chychrun can’t fix the fourth line that is seemingly overwhelmed at various

points of every game. He also can’t instill accountability and structure which the Senators team

does lack.

Without a doubt, they aren’t going to make it without Chychrun or some form of upgrade at

this position. Whether they make it with him, is debatable for this season and as long as the

current coaching staff is in place.

Question 3 touches on the CAPROBATICS which is what is necessary to allow the Senators to

digest 100% of Chychrun’s remaining two years and not have to forego key pieces of the core

going forward.

Obviously, the name attached to this trade rumour is Nikita Zaitsev and his remaining 1.5 years.

It’s actually less with Zaitsev having collected his $2 million signing bonus July 1 st . Would that

be enough?

Let’s simulate the trade.

1) Ottawa Receives – Jakob Chychrun and cap hit of $4.6 million (pro-rated in 2022-23) + 2

more seasons

2) Arizona Receives – Nikita Zaitsev and cap hit of $4.5 million (pro-rated in 2022-23) + 1 more

season, Ottawa Senators 1st round picks in 2023 (protected) & 2024 (protected) or 2025

(unprotected) and Ridly Greig or Egor Sokolov or Lassi Thomson or Jacob Bernard-Docker.

How does that sound to you? That’s a huge bounty for a single player even if they are taking an

albatross of a contract like Zaitsev’s off the books.

Granted the Senators would be virtually cap hit neutral and clearly getting the better player.

However, two first round picks AND player(s) that will certainly play for your team possibly as

early as this season is a Gretzky like return. Even Gretzky came with Marty McSorley and Mike


A trade of this magnitude can’t solve just one problem and the Senators have more than one

problem to solve to be a truly competitive team.

If I am doing this deal, I need more than one player coming back. It is becoming clear to me,

and likely you as well, that Alex Formenton has played his last game as a Senator, and he has

zero trade value. Tyler Motte has been an adequate replacement. However, Formenton was

trending upwards, and Motte is what he is. He’s a fourth line player playing third line minutes.

I would want to talk about Lawson Crouse and his long-term contract at $4.3 million AAV which

expires after the 2026-27 season. His contract fits the Senators’ window of opportunity, and he

would be a better fit in the role that Motte is playing. Motte could then get pushed down to

the fourth line. As long as the Zaitsev contract goes in the deal, the Senators are cap compliant

this season. Formenton would have commanded something in the area of what Crouse is

making now on a long-term deal, so the Senators had to be factoring that into their thinking for

the mid to long-term.

At this point, I would be prepared to throw in an extra one of the players on that list to go with

the draft picks.

Question 4 is, to me, something that is a legitimate concern. There was talk, recently, about

the Senators trying to re-acquire Erik Karlsson. Thankfully, that seems to have gone by the

wayside as bringing a former captain back into the fold when the team clearly belongs to Brady

Tkachuk would have been a huge mistake even if the CAPROBATICS made sense.

The general belief is that the Senators need help in the four hole of their defense core. Jakob

Chychrun strikes me as a top pair defenseman. We’ve all seen what Thomas Chabot is to this

team and it’s hard not to drool over what Jake Sanderson is going to become.

Artem Zub with Thomas Chabot provides stability that allows Chabot to play the way he needs

to play. The chemistry is undeniable. Are we talking about Chychrun in the third or fourth slot?

Of course, Zub has no extension as of this moment and is a UFA at the end of the season.

Is there room for everyone on the ice AND on the balance sheet? I would suggest not. Zub is

going to command at least what Chychrun pulls in today and likely more. Granted, this only

becomes a problem next season, and the Senators will be able to shed some contracts like

Hamonic, Watson, Gambrell and Holden. However, this doesn’t account for Stutzle.

To take on Chychrun might require saying goodbye to someone like Artem Zub. Though

Chychrun would be an upgrade, the chemistry with Zub and Chabot is there. I see this as a

stalling point. Arizona wouldn’t take Zub without an extension and why Zub would ever want

to play there is beyond me. Short of a sign and trade like the Senators did with Hossa, I just

don’t see enough seats left when the music stops. If it could be done, the Senators would have

the best top four in the league overnight. This would literally guarantee Pierre Dorion a seat at

the table when the ownership situation is settled.

Question 5 takes more of a broader view of how to solve this dilemma. Up until now, I have

only looked at moving defensemen to make room for Chychrun.

If the Senators really want Chychrun without sacrificing someone like Zub, and an extension can

be reached before the trade deadline, it might require moving Alex DeBrincat and recovering a

draft pick and a roster player to play lower in the lineup. Since the Senators are looking at

giving up two first round picks to get Chychrun, getting a 1st round pick back along with a third

line right winger who can play now from someone else might not be a bad thing. The 7 th and

39 th overall picks they paid in this past draft isn’t cheap, but sometimes that is the cost of doing


Though the goals haven’t been there, I haven’t been disappointed with DeBrincat and his play.

He is clearly in his own head now and needs to figure that out. However, the power play with

him on it is a sight to see. He distributes the puck as well as he used to shoot it. This player still

has tons of value. As I mentioned before, he is going to need, at least, a qualifying offer of $9

million for next season.

It’s getting crowded on the power play and when Norris comes back from injury, something is

going to have to give. This is something I would be willing to discuss if I really wanted Chychrun

and cap space was my obstacle.

One thing that does concern me is that Jakob Chychrun is no stranger to sick bay. He has never

missed fewer than 14 games in any 82-game season. The only season where he has played

every game was the Covid-19 shortened 56 game season in 2020-21. In his first six plus

seasons, he has missed 128 games.

Do the Senators really want to mortgage the future on a player with that kind of health history?

Have you ever asked yourself why the Coyotes don’t want a 24 year old defenseman like this in

their long-term plan?

Question 6 needs to be given some thought as you don’t bring in a player like this to simply

help you get to the playoffs only to leave when you are competitive. The Senators are likely not

a playoff team this year even with a player like Chychrun. Next year and the year after would

be where you could reasonably assume they could ascend to a playoff position, but not likely to

win the Stanley Cup.

It’;s 2025-26 to 2027-28 where the Senators would ideally be in their winning window. Not

having this player there to be a part of that seems to defeat the purpose of making a deal like

this. Trades of this magnitude are meant to have long-term impact and long-term is not 2.5


The salary cap is projected to be about $92 million by the time his deal expires. The Senators

have cost certainty on Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stutzle, Josh Norris, Drake Batherson, Thomas

Chabot and Mathieu Joseph through that time frame. Lawson Crouse would carry similar cost

certainty. Assuming all went well for the remainder of the contract, the player should want to

be part of something like this and the Senators will be rid of all of their dead cap with the

exception of Colin White. They could be one of the few teams that could pull off a deal to

extend a player like this.

The last time the Senators swung for the fences was the Matt Duchene trade and it could not

have gone worse. I will admit I was a fan of the deal at the time. I would understand the

reluctance to make a deal like this. That said, it’s almost impossible to win a Stanley Cup

without making a big move at some point. I would be in on Chychrun but not all in.

Given the conundrum with Artem Zub not having an extension and his UFA status along with

Alex DeBrincat still struggling to find his form, if I had to choose between the two players, I

would choose Zub.

I believe I could get it done with either or so here is how I would play it out.

1) Ottawa Receives – Jakob Chychrun and cap hit of $4.6 million (pro-rated in 2022-23) + 2

more seasons & Lawson Crouse and cap hit of $4.3 million (pro-rated in 2022-23) + 4 more

seasons. No salary retained by Arizona.

2) Arizona Receives – Nikita Zaitsev and cap hit of $4.5 million (pro-rated in 2022-23) + 1 more

season, Ottawa Senators 1 st round picks in 2023 (protected); 2024 (unprotected) or 2025 (unprotected), Ridly Greig; Lassi Thomson. No salary retained by Ottawa.

Imagine one of these line-ups opening night in 2023.


Brady Tkachuk ($8.25M) Josh Norris ($7.95M) Drake Batherson ($4.98M)

Lawson Crouse ($4.3M) Tim Stutle ($8.35M) Claude Giroux ($6.5M)

Mathieu Joseph ($2.95M) Shane Pinto (?) (DeBrincat return) (?)

Tyler Motte (?) Mark Kastelic ($0.84M) Egor Sokolov (?)

Parker Kelly ($0.76M)

Thomas Chabot ($8.0M) Artem Zub ($5M)

Jake Sanderson ($0.93M) Jakob Chychrun ($4.6M)

Erik Brannstrom ($) Jacob Bernard-Docker (?)

Dillon Heatherington ($0.76M)

Cam Talbot (?)

Anton Forsberg ($2.75M)

$66.25 Million in committed cap space on a projected cap of $83.5 million. After dead cap, that

leaves roughly $12.25 million to extend Pinto, Motte, Talbot, Brannstrom, Bernard-Docker,

Sokolov and absorb the return on a deal for DeBrincat. This seems doable and would be my

preference. You will notice I gave Zub $5 million.


Brady Tkachuk ($8.25M) Josh Norris ($7.95M) Drake Batherson ($4.98M)

Alex DeBrincat ($10M) Tim Stutle ($8.35M) Claude Giroux ($6.5M)

Lawson Crouse ($4.3M) Shane Pinto (?) Mathieu Joseph ($2.95M)

Tyler Motte (?) Mark Kastelic ($0.84M) Egor Sokolov (?)

Parker Kelly ($0.76M)

Thomas Chabot ($8.0M) Jakob Chychrun ($4.6M)

Jake Sanderson ($0.93M) Return on Zub (?)

Erik Brannstrom (?) Jacob Bernard-Docker (?)

Dillon Heatherington ($0.76M)

Cam Talbot (?)

Anton Forsberg ($2.75M)

$69.25 Million in committed cap space on a projected cap of $83.5 million. After dead cap, that

leaves roughly $9.35 million to extend Pinto, Motte, Talbot, Brannstrom, Bernard-Docker,

Sokolov and absorb the return on a deal for Zub. This seems doable but not my preference as

the Senators went bottom feeding on defence this year and it backfired. You will notice I gave

DeBrincat $10 million.

Should the Senators play or pass? I would play to a point and if I could solve more than one

problem with a move, I would make the deal. However, it is worth pointing out that Chychrun

is not the only option. Coyotes GM, Bill Armstrong, can see GMs like Pierre Dorion coming a

mile away. Sometimes it’s better to let someone else overpay and Chychrun is like that coveted

UFA that gets a ridiculous contract he can’t live up to.

Sometimes salvation lies within. Next season, as much as $1.15 million of Nikita Zaitsev’s cap

hit can be buried in the AHL. If Zub can be retained, adding Jacob Bernard-Docker and/or Lassi

Thomson to the right side and replacing Nick Holden is a start. Travis Hamonic has value

deeper in the lineup and at a more digestible cap hit. You would have a serviceable defense

core. That said, isn’t that how the Senators have operated for years now? Doing it on the

cheap? Can the Senators afford not to do something?

Serviceable never wins. It’s just mediocrity by another name.

If Zub can’t be retained, can the Senators afford to let a player like Jacob Chychrun get moved

somewhere else?

All of this is academic if Dorion’s hands are tied, and the Senators ownership situation could nix

deals like these until the new group is in place.

It’s nice to play GM, once in a while.

Pat Maguire | Sens Nation Hockey


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