NHL trade season is fully upon us. For the next three weeks, trade rumors will fill Twitter and excite, or disappoint fans.
King's fans were given a jolt of excitement this week with NHL insider Pierre LeBrun reporting that. "Another thing I should mention on Chychrun, who a lot of people in the league believe Los Angeles still makes the most sense [as a landing spot] given their need on the left side."
Outside of Kings players, Chychrun is probably the player I've discussed the most over the last 18 months. He's been discussed as the missing piece for the Kings for so long now. And maybe he is, but LeBrun's next sentence brings forward the big stumbling block.
"Coyotes were seeking two first-round picks plus either a prospect or a young NHL player in any deal for Chychrun."
This was the price in November, and as the article states, it's unclear if the price has changed. I'd assume it hasn't, if it had, I think Chychrun would have already been moved.
At this point, the question isn't, can the Kings pull off this deal? But rather, are they willing to?
They're one of the few teams who could survive trading two first-round picks and a prospect given how deep their pool is. But that's the kind of trade that can ruin the end of a rebuild if it doesn't work out. Trading young players and picks are how the Kings ended up needing to rebuild in the first place.
Of course, that also came after two Cup wins, so it was worth it. But is this team ready for that kind of deal?
A lot of it also depends on how the Coyotes value the Kings' prospects. Sure, they'd take two first-round picks and one of Arthur Kaliyev or Gabe Vilardi — a player they turned down last season — but it's unlikely Rob Blake moves either piece.
Maybe the Coyotes would be happy with a Rasmus Kupari, Samuel Fagemo or Alex Turcotte level prospect, but maybe not. Where it gets really interesting is on defense. Blake moved one of his many right-shot defensemen to get Kevin Fiala last season and might dip into that well again. One of Jordan Spence or Sean Durzi with the two first-round picks could get that deal across the line.
Moving one of those two defensemen and adding Chychrun next to Matt Roy would make the Kings' blue line significantly stronger.
Mikey Anderson-Drew Doughty
Jakob Chychrun-Matt Roy
Alex Edler-Sean Durzi/Jordan Spence
Again, it all depends on how ready the Kings are to make a win-now move. He's cost controlled for the next two seasons, but after that, he's going to require a massive contract to re-sign. With $11 million locked up in Drew Doughty for the next four seasons, that could get very tricky down the line.
It would be a transformative deal for the Kings, but the cost might be too much for Blake still.
Two other names were mentioned by LeBrun. Joel Edmundson and Vladislav Gavrikov have both been linked to Los Angeles as backup options should the price on Chychrun be too high.
The problem with Edmundson, like Chychrun, is the steep cost. It isn't anywhere near the monster haul Chychrun is expected to get, but it's steep for a player like Edmundson. Right now, the pieces discussed are a 2023 first-round pick or one of the team's right-shot defensemen.
If you're convinced Edmundson's fantastic 2020-21 season is his actual level, that's a reasonable price to pay. But that was two seasons ago and he's posted bad results since then. Yes, the Canadiens have been a bottom-feeder in that time, but Edmundson's numbers are still a concern.
Trading a premium piece because there's a chance Edmundson is a product of a bad team is a huge risk.
The big connection here is Marc Bergevin. Bergevin is a senior advisor to Blake and signed Edmundson to his current four-year deal as general manager of the Canadiens.
At his best, Edmundson would give the Kings exactly what they need, a big, physically imposing blue liner. But he hasn't been at his best in a while. This could be a Ben Chiarot situation, where a team pays a hefty price for the idea of a player instead of the actual player.
A pending UFA, the price on Gavrikov should be much lower than Edmundson, but the concerns are the same. He posted really good results in his first two seasons. But this has been a tough season for Gavrikov.
Like Edmundson, Gavrikov is playing on a bad team and that could be impacting his results. Still, it would be a risk to trade for Gavrikov given his recent struggles.
And despite warranted criticism of Durzi on the left, he's posted better results than Gavrikov playing his offside. Trading for a lefty just to balance out the defense isn't a good idea. The Kings need a good left-shot defenseman, not just a left-shot defenseman.
If it becomes a case of Gavrikov or Edmundson, the Kings should go after Gavrikov. He's younger, costs less and as a pending UFA, the Kings can cut bait quickly if he doesn't improve.
Gavrikov's results have also been better over the last two seasons. There's a higher possibility he bounces back on a good team.
The rumors will continue to heat up over the next few weeks and I'd expect Chychrun, Gavrikov and Edmundson to be at the center of them until a left-shot defenseman is acquired. Or the deadline slams shut without Blake making a trade, whichever comes first.