Between now and the trade deadline, there are going to be developing stories around the league about available players and where they might go. So, we’ll build on the reporting by giving insight into what these players on the block can do and what an acquiring team will be adding to their lineup.
Most teams should kick the tires on Chychrun. It’s rare to find a defender in or near the prime of their careers on the market — especially while signed to such a cost-effective deal. He has another three full seasons at a reasonable cap hit of $4.6 million.
It’s easy to write him off for being a minus-29 on the season, but that doesn’t give nearly enough insight into the player he is. It’s been far from a perfect season for the Coyotes, and that environment is tough for most to thrive in. A look back to just last season gives a more accurate view of who Chychrun is — an effective two-way defenceman.
His stick work on both ends of the ice shined last year. On a team that sorely needed the help, the defender blocked passes and retrieved loose pucks to help limit chances against. Plus he showed the ability to bring the puck into the offensive zone with control.
There, the standout of his game was obviously his shot, which he converted with 18 times. He primarily generated shots from the left point, but moved up when the opportunity arose, and was able to connect from in tight as well.
After shooting just over 10 per cent last year, it’s no surprise Chychrun’s regressed this season in the scoring department. That said, this much of a decline in his game wasn’t anticipated (two goals in 26 games). Then again, look at the team around him. That’s why a trade should help him find more support and put him in a position to rebound.
Chychrun’s a match for young clubs hoping to be playoff teams in the near future (like Anaheim) because he won’t just help a team right now, but potentially long-term as well. On a weak Coyotes team, he was the clear No. 1. On a contender, he could easily slot in anywhere in the top-four.
Chychrun isn’t the only defender with offensive upside on the trade market. There’s also Klingberg of the Stars. However, their situations are quite different.
The 29-year-old Klingberg is a pending unrestricted free agent, with his team-friendly seven-year, $4.25 million contract expiring. As Marek reported, he’s looking for something in the range of eight years and $63 million; if the Stars can’t meet that it is believed Klingberg’s camp would prefer a change of scenery.
Whether it’s merely as a rental ahead of Klingberg reaching unrestricted free agency for the first time in his career, or a home looking to extend him long-term, an acquiring team would be adding a top-four defenceman who can move the puck and quarterback a top power play.
The Stars’ back thrives at moving the puck up the ice. Not only does he bring the puck out of the defensive end with possession often, his attempts are generally successful. And his efforts don’t stop there; he can be counted on to get the puck over the blue line and into the offensive zone with control, too.
While he’s not the most frequent shooter, Klingberg sets up his teammates with his passing both at even strength and on the power play. Thanks to his ability to thread the puck to the slot, the team takes a high rate of quality chances while Klingberg’s deployed.
Like Chychrun, Klingberg is probably not the No. 1 on a contending team — especially not in the long term as he’s already 29 and his next contract (if he gets the term he’s looking for) will trend into the eventual downslide of his career. That said, he’s a key source of offence from the blue line who can bolster a team’s top-four. And on a squad that isn’t as deep, he could easily slot right on to the top pair.
To round out today’s runthrough of potentially available defenders at the deadline, there’s Giordano in Seattle. Elliotte Friedman wrote that it’s unlikely he stays with the Kraken through the deadline, since he has value as a rental. He’s in the final year of a six-year contract that carries a $6.75 million cap hit and has some control over his future with a modified no-trade clause.
At this point in his career, he’s logging slightly less ice time from years past — down from an average in the 25-minute range to this year’s 21:04 in all situations. His offensive impact isn’t as strong as seasons past either, though this year, the Kraken’s weaknesses in the offensive zone are a team-wide issue and likely don’t help his case. But the lefty can be counted on for his high-volume shooting from the point.
While Giordano doesn’t lead defenders in denying opponents from entering the offensive zone, he does help keep the opponent to the outside; Seattle doesn’t allow a high rate of slot shots against when he’s on the ice. One way he keeps shots from reaching those areas is his willingness to get in front of those attempts and block shots at a high rate. When those shots do go on net, count on Giordano to jump on loose pucks to limit rebound opportunities against.
That’s why at 5-on-5, the Kraken aren’t expected to allow a high rate of goals against (2.05 per 60) when accounting for shot quality (and not goaltending) when the Flames’ former captain is deployed.
That all translates to shorthanded situations, where he helps close passing lanes and limit quality looks directed at the Kraken net.
Expectations do have to be reasonable for the 38-year-old, but he’s shown that he can still be effective at this point in his career and add stability to a blue line. It will help, however, to ensure he has a strong partner on his next club, like he has with Jamie Oleksiak through much of the season in Seattle.
Data via Sportlogiq