The Winnipeg Jets will be trade deadline buyers. However, while most people assume it would be for a forward, it should be for a defenseman, and here’s why. Jacob Chaichroon Fits the bill. He plays right side where the Jets lack depth in a defensive group that still needs strengthening.
Chychrun’s current club, the Arizona Coyotes, are looking for draft picks for a full rebuild, and the Jets have plenty of depth to offer. Chichrun has two years Left in a favorable deal and would simultaneously shore up the club’s offense and defense.
The Jets need defensive help
Before you throw me under the bus and clamor for the Jets to get a forward, consider that Josh Morrissey, the Jets’ defense is average at best. Chychrun’s addition would be perfect, as he’s a top-pairing defenseman who plays right side and can quarterback on the power play.
“I don’t think Winnipeg has the kind of defense that you look at on paper and feel stirred by the feeling of Cup contention.”
– Murat Ates, “Can Winnipeg Jets Win Stanley Cup With This Defense? Dylan Samberg’s Trajectory? Mailbag, Part 2”, The Athletic, 15/01/2023
On a Coyotes team that has allowed the fourth-most goals in the NHL this season, Chychrun has a plus/minus rating of plus-5. That’s second-best on the team, and he’s the only defenseman on the positive side of that stat.
The Jets’ defense has improved significantly this season under head coach Rick Bones. However, Chychrun’s skill and competitiveness won’t solidify a weakness critics have had about the Jets in recent years.
“…Chychrun is exactly the type of player Winnipeg needs to make a legitimate Stanley Cup run. Acquiring Chychrun would provide the Jets with two top-pairing caliber players and give them three rock-solid defensive pairings.”
– Jacob Stoller, “Could Jakub Chaichroon Be the Winnipeg Jets’ Missing Piece?” From, Hockey News, 20/12/2022
Jet currently owns 2nd best penalty kill in the NHL, behind only the Boston Bruins. Their goals-against average of 2.61 is fourth-best in the NHL, and a team that once suffered from its team’s defense ranks in the top 10 in most categories in goals against. I know it’s so cliché, but…defense wins championships, and Chychrun will seal a leak the Jets have had for several years.
The asking price for Coyotes’ Chychrun is high
In case you haven’t heard, the asking price for Chychrun’s services is high. You don’t go shopping for a Cadillac expecting to pay the sticker price you’d see on a Buick. Every NHL team knows this, and since the Coyotes have been shopping him around all season, now may be the time for general manager (GM) Kevin Scheveldoff to strike. Before the trade deadline.
Money won’t be an issue for the Jets as they have over $9 million in deadline cap space. No, it’s going to be a resource issue. The Coyotes are in full rebuild mode entering this year’s draft with the number-one selection and the ultimate goal of building around the consensus first-overall pick to acquire as many draft picks as possible. Connor Bedard. The Jets won’t have a high first-round pick, but they have several first-rounders in their system that they could offer.
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With the likes of Rutger McGroarty, Chaz Lucious and Brad Lambert up front, along with Ville Heinola and Dylan Samberg on the blue line, the Jets have the assets to make the deal. Cheveldayoff could put together a number of combinations of players and picks that the Coyotes would have to seriously consider. The question is, will he agree to pay that price?
Chichrun rent is high. His current deal pays him a team-friendly $4.6 million per season, including expiration. He has two more years on his contract after this season and won’t become an unrestricted free agent (UFA) until the summer of 2025. Given the cap space and future availability, this is a deal worth considering.
The Jets don’t need advance help as expected
The Jets have been criticized for their lack of depth at the forward position, but their recent play through an injury-plagued December would suggest otherwise. They were sidelined by seven regular season injuries and still closed out the month with a 9-7 win record.
Find a team with three better centers than Mark Scheifele, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Adam Lory. Then add in elite scoring in Kyle Connor or Nikolaj Ehlers, the eccentricity of Blake Wheeler, and the hockey IQ of a young Cole Perfetti, and scoring is no problem for this team. The Jets have scored 160 goals so far, with Scheifele approaching the 30-goal mark and Connor and Dubois each adding 20-plus goals.
Add one of the best scorers on the planet in Connor Hellebuyck, and the Jets are poised to make a run at the Stanley Cup. The price to pay for Chychrun is high but worth the price. With Hellebuyck, Schiefele, Dubois, and Wheeler all UFAs in 2024, the current window of opportunity for the Jets to win with this roster is small.
This is not the time for the Jets to get more depth with a third-line forward. It’s time to act. The Jets are consistently at the top of the Western Conference. They should be a team that others fear to meet in the playoffs. They have some weaknesses and the weaknesses they have had in the past few seasons are being erased as the season progresses. I can’t think of a better time or player for the Jets to take a big swing with Chychrun right now. Just ask the Toronto Raptors if they regret signing Kawhi Leonard in 2018, knowing they’ll likely lose him next season.
Keith Forsyth is a freelance writer and sports junkie from rural Manitoba covering the Winnipeg Jets for Hockey Writers. Keith loves all sports and is a huge fan of the NFL (Schole Vikings… if you know, you know) and the Montreal Expos (they’re coming back… you see!). He recently retired from the high school teaching world, where his greatest passion was coaching young athletes. He brings that same logical, behind-the-bench kind of approach to you as he provides an insightful look into the NHL and the Jets in particular. For interview requests or content information, follow Keith on Twitter or his social media accounts. They appear under his photo in the article like it.