ARIZONA COYOTES

Interest in Coyotes D Jakob Chychrun via trade remains strong, admits GM

Feb 22, 2022, 5:13 PM
General manager Bill Armstrong of the Arizona Coyotes attends rounds 2-7 of the 2021 NHL Entry Draf...
General manager Bill Armstrong of the Arizona Coyotes attends rounds 2-7 of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft at Gila River Arena on July 24, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Kelsey Grant/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by Kelsey Grant/NHLI via Getty Images)

Only one player in the NHL has a worse plus-minus than the Arizona Coyotes’ Jakob Chychrun as of Tuesday.

Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong’s busy phone lines might indicate that having a bad plus-minus on the second-worst team in the NHL carries little weight to outside evaluators. Joining Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Tuesday, Armstrong admitted other teams’s interest in Chychrun is a topic of conversations a month before the March 21 trade deadline.

“Yeah it is true,” Armstrong said. “When you go through the rebuild and you have good players hanging out there with really good contracts, you know, teams are going to call you all the time. Once it gets to the press (that) they’re calling, it’s a feeding frenzy.

“As a GM here, I have to do my job and listen to what other teams offer. But at this point in time, he’s a Coyote and we love him being a Coyote, and I guess that’s all I can say on that.”

Chychrun, who remains under contract for three seasons after this one, indeed hasn’t had the cleanest season.

Part of the perception of his struggles: His 11 points of production through 39 games juxtoposed next to a career-high 41 in 56 games last season. Chychrun’s shooting percentage has plummeted from 10.2% in 2020-21 to 1.7% this season.

Armstrong admits the numbers don’t completely misrepresent the play. The GM said that Chychrun took time to find himself in a new season playing with a new coach on a rebuilding roster.

Then again, no player will have sparking numbers on a team that is 13-33-4.

Chychrun has come on as the Coyotes have found relative traction following massive struggles in the first two months of the season. Chychrun posted plus-minuses of -15 in October and -10 in November before more reasonable outputs of -4, -2 and +3 respectively in December, January and seven February games so far.

Armstrong sees that Chychrun has found footing after the challenging start. He said there is history to believe that Chychrun is far from plateauing as a pro.

“We approached this year and he didn’t get off to a good start, and lately he’s turned his game around and played a lot better,” the GM said. “If you look around the analytics, defensemen in the NHL tend to peak around 28 and he’s 23 — he’s still a young man. I’ve been fortunate to be around (Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex) Pietrangelo (with the St. Louis Blues), and I’ve seen the seasons where he had not-so-good seasons.

“You still have to stay with them and encourage them and keep teaching them. It’s a learning lesson for them when they go through these seasons,” Armstrong added. “Chyk has really lately taken steps to turn his season around.”

Loose pucks

— Armstrong on the challenges of luring talent to Arizona with the team’s announcement of temporarily sharing a 5,000-person capacity arena with Arizona State University: “It does (present challenges), there’s no question. For every action there is a reaction. Now players are going to put that on their list because maybe they don’t want to play in a small arena and you’re now on their no-trade list.

“Make no mistake about it, when you build a good team and it becomes a great team, great players want to play with great players. In Arizona, we have sunshine. We have the free vitamin D … it really gives us an advantage. There are teams out there that are jealous of what we have …”

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