LeBrun: Inside the NHL Deadline Week defense carousel – how the big trades went down and why some didn’t

It took 18 months, but Jakob Chychrun was finally traded – and arguably to a team that needs him more than any other NHL team.

It’s yet another big domino to fall in what has been a wild few weeks as the trade market for defenders plays out.

Let’s take it all back.

The Bruins are believed to have expressed interest in Chychrun about three or four weeks ago, but when there didn’t seem to be a path to a deal given the price, the B’s switched gears to Vladislav Gavrikov in Columbus. The Blue Jackets thought they pretty much had a deal with the Bruins about two weeks ago, but the Bruins told the Jackets they needed more time, presumably to lose space.

In the meantime, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan sent a note to his colleagues around Feb. 19, saying he was ready to listen to pending unrestricted free agent Dmitry Orlov and, well, that went a long way. obviously everything changed. The Bs turned to what they felt was a better option and reached a deal on February 23. Great pickup for Boston.

This left Columbus furious. And scrambling. There are only a limited number of first-round picks available.

Last Friday, the Jackets began to reestablish trade negotiations with former suitors on Gavrikov, reaching out to cities like Edmonton, Los Angeles and Toronto.

The Maple Leafs, meanwhile, were already committed to Chicago on defenseman Jake McCabe, though that deal wasn’t finalized until last Monday.

The Oilers showed some interest in Gavrikov, but it was clear to Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen that Edmonton viewed Gavrikov as either Plan B or Plan C. It turns out he was definitely Plan C.

That’s because the Oilers had recurring conversations with Arizona about Chychrun over a two-week period through Tuesday. Talks got really heated between the Oilers and Coyotes on Sunday and Monday, and at some point both sides felt they were pretty close to something. But that deal fell through, largely because the Coyotes simply didn’t want the money back in the form of a player contract. Even after moving Jesse Puljujarvi to Carolina on Tuesday morning, the Oilers couldn’t make a deal with Chychrun work without firing at least one player contract.

I feel like Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong was ready to continue working with the Oilers, but Edmonton general manager Ken Holland decided he couldn’t risk waiting too long. close to Friday’s deadline and missing the other defender he had conversations with.

It would be Mattias Ekholm. Holland called Predators general manager David Poile on Feb. 23 to get the ball rolling. In that conversation, Poile informed Holland that the price for Ekholm should include at least one first-round pick this year (with Nashville hosting the draft, that was important), plus prospect Reid Schaefer, drafted at No. 32 the last summer. The Oilers weren’t thrilled that Schaefer was a part of things, but they kept the conversation going with the Predators while having side conversations with Arizona about Chychrun over the past week.

Once Holland informed Armstrong on Tuesday that once and for all he was out on Chychrun, he made the deal on Ekholm with Poile. Having to include Tyson Barrie in this trade for cap reasons was also not an easy decision. Barrie was a key member of the Oilers’ power play and a popular teammate. But the overall price was worth it for Holland, to get a veteran top-four defenseman like Ekholm, who the Oilers hope will help stabilize their five-on-five game defensively.

Tuesday was also the last time the Coyotes and Kings talked about Chychrun. I’d like to know how many times these two front offices have discussed the defender, who always seemed destined for Los Angeles, with the Kings desperately needed on the left side over the past 12 months. But that never happened. A Kings source told me Wednesday night that there had certainly been plenty of talk with Arizona about Chychrun, but they never felt like they were that close to a exchange.

And, of course, the reason Tuesday was the Kings’ last conversation with Arizona about Chychrun is because Los Angeles was looking to cement its deal with Columbus for Gavrikov (and goaltender Joonas Korpisalo) late Tuesday night.

The two clubs had been talking on and off for some time, but things got more serious on Monday and Tuesday when the idea of ​​having both defender and goalkeeper in the deal was introduced. Good job from Kekalainen, ultimately, securing his first-round pick, albeit conditional, given the circumstances surrounding his failed deal with Boston. He did pretty well.

And There you go. The Kings, Oilers and Bruins — all potential destinations for Chychrun — were one by one dropped as options for Arizona as they filled their defensive needs.

That being the case, it’s no surprise that in the past 24 to 48 hours things have heated up between Arizona and Ottawa.

Other teams have also spoken to Arizona over the past week, including Washington, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Columbus.

But the big draw in the end for Arizona to gain ground with the Senators was two-fold. First, Ottawa didn’t need to send money back in a player contract. It was huge for Arizona. And second, the Coyotes felt that Ottawa’s first-round pick, while protected in the top five, was more attractive than any other pick offered. That pick could end up anywhere between No. 6 and No. 16 — unless, of course, Ottawa makes the playoffs, which, well, is possible.

As others have reported, the Coyotes had a potential trade with Columbus involving Chychrun’s collapse in Montreal’s draft last summer, which included the Jackets’ No. 12 pick in the first round. So in the end, the Coyotes likely end up with a similar first-round pick from Ottawa. But they don’t end up with two first-round picks, something the Coyotes had been asking for in a Chychrun trade for more than a year.

From the Senators’ perspective, the price has certainly softened from earlier conversations with Arizona, in which the names of prospects like Ridly Greig and Tyler Kleven were part of the Coyotes’ request, in addition to the rest of the draft pick package. He was deemed too high a price by the Senators, which is why the organization believed he was out of Chychrun’s contest last week. Out, well, until the price drops.

And, of course, he did. Senators general manager Pierre Dorion has shown good patience, and he ends up patching a glaring hole on his blue line at a price he can live with. And while that’s a short-term boost for a team playing good hockey, the real impact of the deal for the Senators will be felt over the next few years.

What a crazy two weeks in the defenseman trade market, not even delving into Filip Hronek’s surprising trade to Vancouver from Detroit on Wednesday, or Shayne Gostisbehere ending up in Carolina; or Luke Schenn, Jake McCabe and Erik Gustafsson heading to Toronto; or Jack Johnson returning to Colorado.

And we’re probably not done.

But imagine for a moment how differently the past two weeks could have turned out.

Gavrikov was almost a Bruin. And where would that have left Orlov? And Chychrun could easily have ended up in Edmonton or Los Angeles. What would that have meant for Gavrikov and Ekholm?

So many overlapping business conversations around a small group of defenders. Let’s see how it goes come playoff time.

(Jakob Chychrun top photo: Zac BonDurant/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Leave a Comment