Social media was abuzz on Sunday regarding a possible Jakob Chychrun trade to Los Angeles. We were hounded with questions from every direction about when it would happen and who was involved.
Reality is, there wasn’t really anything new to report. During a Kings Of The Podcast episode over All Star Weekend, we broke down what a potential deal would likely look like. As we noted at that time, all of our sources indicated LA’s two top-of-the-food-chain prospects Quinton Byfield and Brandt Clarke were off the table. We’re not a rumor site, so we aren’t going to feed into all the speculation out there. However, for context – one of our favorite words on KOTP – below is some information to think about as you read and hear a lot of noise in the hockeyverse.
Arizona is said to want 3-4 assets for their star defenseman. One of those pieces is believed to be a first round draft pick, while the others should be ‘first round equivalent’ prospects. So, what does that mean for LA?
For starters, we’ve heard LA isn’t interested in trading their 2023 first rounder; especially after missing out on having a 2022 first round selection due to the Kevin Fiala trade with Minnesota last summer. That means, the Kings would most likely be offering a 2024 first round pick in any potential deal. Considering LA is on the rise, that should be a late first round pick. Would that be enough for Arizona?
As for the players – again, for context – what could the Kings and Coyotes potentially be discussing?
Start with this list:
It’s not as simple as, ‘Arizona, go ahead and select the two or three players you want and let’s close the deal.’ Each player comes with additional considerations. For starters, Kupari (even though he’s a former first round pick) and Grans probably don’t have enough cache yet to move the needle. Additionally, Vilardi is an RFA this summer and due for a healthy raise given his output this season. Turcotte has had some injury issues, how does that impact his value, if at all? Kaliyev could score 20 goals this season and he hasn’t even seen top-6 minutes. What’s his future upside?
In general, the Kings would hate to part with any of those players. Each is an important piece to the overall puzzle. In Turcotte, they have a player who is unlike nearly every other prospect in the pipeline. His skillset is unique. Ditto for Kaliyev with his lethal one-timer. How many times have we talked about Vilardi being the prospect with the highest of high-end skill?
Then, there are the defensive questions. If Arizona is losing a defenseman, wouldn’t they want one back in return? If so, and they hold to the first round equivalent, is that Bjornfot? He is out of waivers next season, so either LA or Arizona will need to have an NHL roster spot available for him come October. That’s a lefty for lefty swap. Could be good for Arizona, not the ideal situation for LA. As noted continuously for the past year, the Kings need to clear room on the right side. They already have Durzi playing on the left due to their current log jam and needs. Plus, they have Spence and Clarke coming quickly. Durzi is the most NHL-ready blueliner in the system. Scouts know what he can do now having watched him last year and thus far this season. He’s also signed to a very favorable contract for one more season – always an important aspect to a trade.
Losing Durzi wouldn’t be easy for LA. He’s proven to be extremely valuable since stepping in last season. He provides offense, toughness, and versatility. That contract could also help LA balance their salary cap concerns for next season.
There is also the ‘other teams’ factor. LA isn’t the only club angling for Chychrun. For example, If the Kings were able to package Turcotte, Durzi, and a 2024 first round pick, would that be enough for the Coyotes? Or could another team beat that offer?
And then GM Rob Blake also has to consider other moves needed. Chychrun, as good as he is, isn’t the piece that is going to put LA over the top. There are more moves needed this offseason. Two of Blake’s biggest moves of late have been via free agency (Phil Danault) and the Fiala trade (a two asset deal; one prospect and one first round pick). If Arizona wants a fourth asset to complete a Chychrun deal, would he be willing to use so many chips on one player? Should he be willing? It could likely be argued either way. However, don’t discount the fact that Chychrun is at the top of the board when it comes to LA’s needs (i.e. the type of player, the contract, his age, etc.). There is quite a drop off to the next tier of left shot defensemen they could potentially target at the moment.
If it took four assets to get Chychrun, would it be worth it considering they’d have him under contract for this season and the next two years, as well? Sometimes you have to overpay for what you need. In that sense, the Kings overpaid to get Rob Scuderi in 2009. He later helped them win in 2012, so it worked out that time.
If a deal to acquire Chychrun is Turcotte, Durzi, and a first round pick, it’s probably a great hockey trade for both sides.
If nothing materializes between the two clubs because they couldn’t agree on a fair price, it’s not the end of the world. Blake will continue to work on improving the Kings now and over the summer. This isn’t an all-in, have to do it type season. The future is still very bright.
Now, if Arizona was willing to include goaltender Karel Vejmelka, the entire scope of any deal changes dramatically.
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