Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

The Bruins aren’t against making a big move at the 2023 NHL trade deadline – or looking into it, anyway.

Pierre LeBrun reported Tuesday at The Athletic that the Bruins have “inquired” with the Arizona Coyotes on defenseman Jakob Chychrun ahead of the trade deadline, which falls at 3 p.m. ET on Friday, March 3. LeBrun’s full article is about the “hockey trade,” which he describes as a trade involving a player who is NOT in the final year of his contract. A long-term purchase, as opposed to a rental.

Bruins GM Don Sweeney has been able to make multiple such deals in the past, and Chychrun would be another addition to the list – and a big upgrade for their defense. More on that below.

  • ChychruGLENDALE, ARIZONA - MARCH 22: Jakob Chychrun #6 of the Arizona Coyotes skates with the puck against the Colorado Avalanche during the NHL game at Gila River Arena on March 22, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. The Avalanche defeated the Coyotes 5-1.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)n

    GLENDALE, ARIZONA – MARCH 22: Jakob Chychrun #6 of the Arizona Coyotes skates with the puck against the Colorado Avalanche during the NHL game at Gila River Arena on March 22, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. The Avalanche defeated the Coyotes 5-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • Chychrun, a 2016 first-round pick drafted two spots after Charlie McAvoy, would qualify as a bona fide top-4 defenseman on any team, and in many cases he’s a surefire top-pairing guy. On the Bruins, he’d make the most sense as a replacement for Matt Grzelcyk next to McAvoy.

    The 24-year-old Chychrun plays a similar style to Grzelcyk, but has proven a more capable offensive producer in his career. He has posted an 82-game average of 13 goals and 35 points in the past six seasons, powered by a rocket of a shot that would give the Bruins a potent new weapon on the power play.

    Defensively, Chychrun isn’t quite a guy who will shut opponents down from the net-front or prevent a ton of scoring chances, but he’s a smooth skater and adept puck-mover who would fit well in the Bruins’ puck retrieval and transition game. At 6-foot-2 and 211 pounds, Chychrun has a much better chance of withstanding the grind against tight forechecking in the playoffs, as opposing forwards try to disrupt his breakouts.

    Contract-wise, Chychrun is doable for Sweeney, with his $4.6 million cap hit. He’s also signed through the next two seasons.

  • Mar 12, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk (48) attempts a shot on Arizona Coyotes goaltender Karel Vejmelka (70) during the first period at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Mar 12, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk (48) attempts a shot on Arizona Coyotes goaltender Karel Vejmelka (70) during the first period at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

  • Chychrun would probably cost the Bruins a base package that looks something like Grzelcyk, top defensive prospect Mason Lohrei, and a first-round pick. For a player of Chychrun’s caliber that they can pair with McAvoy, the deal feels like a no-brainer – in a video game or on a fantasy team. (UPDATE: Pierre LeBrun previously reported that Arizona’s asking price for Chychrun is a prospect and two first-round picks. So the Bruins could conceivably get him without giving up a roster player. The sense is the Bruins would even prefer this kind of trade.)

    The question for Sweeney, if he’s willing to give up what it takes to get Chychrun, is the personal impact it would have on the Bruins locker room if he trades Grzelcyk, at the deadline, in the middle of a potential Stanley Cup season. Grzelcyk is well-liked and respected and close with McAvoy, his teammate going all the way back to Boston University in 2015. Disrupting those relationships and that chemistry would carry some risk.

    So, it’s on Sweeney to decide whether Chychrun is truly the piece that would put them over the top for a Stanley Cup championship this year, and if any internal turmoil can be overcome. That would certainly put a lot of pressure on Chychrun himself. And if they do make the deal, it’s likely that the Bruins would bring Chychrun in with the intention of signing him long-term – basically recreating the 2022 Hampus Lindholm trade-and-extension.

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  • But that only makes it feel less likely that the Bruins actually make that kind of deal, for any impact defenseman. They may not have to. It’s a legitimate concern that Grzelcyk has been targeted by big, aggressive forwards in recent playoff runs. But if they can simply add a complementary left-shot defenseman with size who can be sturdier in the defensive zone, it would enable head coach Jim Montgomery to shield Grzelcyk from tougher matchups and put both him and his bigger counterpart in position to succeed.

    For that reason, keep an eye on Vladislav Gavrikov in Columbus. Or if they opt for a right shot, Luke Schenn in Vancouver. Expect that kind of move, and if it turns out to be bigger, that’s fun. But also risky. But fun.

    We’ll continue to keep you updated throughout the NHL season here at 985TheSportsHub.com. And you can always get in-depth Bruins thoughts from Ty Anderson and myself on the Sports Hub Underground podcast.

  • Click here for complete Boston Bruins coverage at 985TheSportsHub.com.

    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

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