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Sens/Yotes talking trade options - Chychrun/Crouse/Formenton/Zaitsev

July 30, 2022, 10:06 PM ET [237 Comments]
Kevin Francis
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Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion has picked up the pace over the last few days in his pursuit of a top-four defenseman. With a few of the Sens targets off the market over the past week in MacKenzie Weegar, John Marino, and John Klingberg, he has shifted his focus back to Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun. Although Dorion has gone quiet of late after a barrage of moves back in early July, I was told that he was reminded by Thomas Chabot about how he doesn't want to be targetted again this year by opposing teams, the way he has been over the last few seasons. He made Dorion very aware of this in his exit meeting and was quite adamant that some of his injuries this past season were because of how thin they were on the blue line. Opposing teams scouting reports were to run Chabot every chance you had and he's truly at his wit's end by not having a solid surrounding cast on defense.

Now there are many moving pieces involving a potential deal for Chychrun, the first being Nikita Zaitsev. Zaitsev has an updated 10 team, no trade list, and has already nixed a potential deal. Two sources have told me the potential deal was to send Zaitsev to Chicago as either a salary dump while the other scenario on the table as one source said, the deal could've been a bigger one as Ottawa was serious about acquiring Connor Murphy as their right side top 4 defenseman.
The problem was Zaitsev has been adamant about staying in Ottawa as he has trained here all summer with Artem Zub. Of course, he wants to stay in Ottawa when your head coach continues to give you a prominent role in the top 4 regardless of your play while he holds others on the blue line accountable. The hope is Arizona would take back Zaitsev in any deal with Chychrun, as he's only owed 2.5M in actual cash after his signing bonus of 2M was paid out on July 1st, so you would think the Coyotes would be all over the fact that he counts as 4.5M against the cap as they move into a small arena with little revenue. Meanwhile, others in NHL circles have suggested that maybe Dorion puts him on waivers once the pre-season begins and teams might run into injury issues.

There's no doubt the Coyotes have set themselves up on defense for a potential trade with Chychrun after signing vets Troy Stetcher and ex-Senator Josh Brown and acquiring Nemeth from the Rangers. Similar to what Florida did at the beginning of July, the Panthers were trying to add depth on defense as they knew they were close to dealing a key piece on their blue line. The same is true with Arizona as they look to add more young prospects and draft picks as they go into complete rebuild mode. The other aspect potentially holding up a deal between Ottawa and Arizona is the status of Alex Formenton due to the World Junior investigation. I'm told Arizona would like to add Lawson Crouse to the Chychrun deal if Formenton was coming back the other way. The Coyotes have yet to re-sign Crouse, who is an RFA but three years older than Formenton. You can be sure that one of Lassi Thomson or JBD would be part of the trade, along with two potential first round picks and another prospect. As I've stated here in this space for months, Egor Sokolov is one of the prospects the Coyotes have long wanted in any deal going back to the trade deadline. The Sens might be expected to retain some of Zaitsev's contract for next season depending on what the final deal would look like. There are a couple of versions of what the Yotes/Sens trade could be like, here's one version. Now if Formenton isn't part of it, then Crouse wouldn't be either.

To Arizona -
Thomson or JBD
Sokolov
1st round pick in 2023(top 3 protected)
1st or 2nd round pick in 2024(Ottawa has 2 in the 2nd round)
Zaitsev - possible retention of salary in 2023-24
Formenton

To Ottawa -
Chychrun
Crouse
Possible 3rd pick in 2024 as the Yotes have 4 of them

With so many moving pieces on defense, sources have told me that the Dallas Stars are serious about acquiring Erik Brannstrom as they need a young puck moving defenseman. A lot depends on how everything shakes out with Zaitsev and if Ottawa can acquire Chychrun. Another long shot team that might be looking to move a player off their blue line if the right deal came along, is the Calgary Flames. It's definitely something to keep an eye on as Ottawa will be linked to Calgary as a possible destination for any defenseman.

Depending on what happens with Formenton, as there are a few possibilities, I was told the Sens have kicked the tires on free agent Paul Statsny. He made just under 4M last year but with very few dollars left out there for remaining free agents, he could be had on a one-year deal for 2M. Definitely, something else to keep an eye on if Ottawa needs to upgrade the third line, depending if Formenton is included in any deal to Arizona or if any third liner came back to Ottawa.

One signing that was rather quiet for Ottawa was that of Jayce Hawryluk on a two-way contract(750k/170k). He can play LW or RW and saw some time with Ottawa under DJ Smith a few years ago. What one source told me regarding this signing is that there were other players to be had who played some games in the NHL last year, but Ottawa felt that he fit their system even though he spent last year in Sweden plus they didn't have to bring him in on a one-way contract as other free agents are seeking at the moment. The source went on to say, this was more than an AHL depth move as Dorion is preparing to have the left side in the organization with players who have NHL experience, ready to step into the lineup while fitting into DJ's system in case of the potential fallout of the World Junior investigation.

Many inside the Sens organization have said Dorion's next few moves all have to do with the blue line. Add to the mix that Ottawa needs to get a contract extension done with Zub, preferably before training camp so they know where they stand going into the season and the Sens' blue line could finally resemble that of a legitimate NHL playoff contending defense. The month of August will be just as important for Dorion as July was when it comes to finalizing his roster to become a legitimate playoff contender.

Comments, thoughts Sens fans?!

Thanks for reading.
Kevin
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