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Coyotes GM: Chychrun's injuries, 'terrible' 2021-22 made deal difficult

Bruce Bennett / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong defended the trade that sent Jakob Chychrun to the Ottawa Senators earlier in March despite heavy scrutiny over Arizona's return.

Chychrun had been on the trade block since January 2022, but Armstrong argued that the defenseman's injury history and poor play last season made him difficult to move.

"I was reading an article on how we buffooned it. The big saga, and how we blew this. But people skim that, they don't really understand that Jakob was injured for eight months," Armstrong said on the Cam and Strick Podcast.

Chychrun was sidelined with a lower-body injury at the 2022 trade deadline and missed the final 24 games of the campaign. He then missed the opening 16 contests of the 2022-23 season with a wrist issue.

Armstrong also argued that Chychrun's subpar performance in 2021-22 affected the trade.

"It's hard to trade a player when he's coming off a season he was minus-20. He was terrible," Armstrong said. "And then you throw his injury history from before, and then you throw his injury history now, and he's out for eight months."

Armstrong said one club made a push to land Chychrun at the 2022 draft, but "Jakob didn't want to go there." He added that the return wasn't as good as the one the team received from Ottawa.

Chychrun's contract, which carries a $4.6-million cap hit through 2024-25, doesn't contain no-trade protection until a 10-team no-trade list kicks in next season. However, the interested team became hesitant to acquire Chychrun upon learning he wasn't interested in joining it, according to Armstrong.

"We could've crushed it, and we would've got two late first-rounders, and we would've had to take money back. Up from $3.1 million to $5.1 million back," he said. "Why would we do that for two late firsts?"

Armstrong ultimately dealt Chychrun to the Senators for a top-five protected 2023 first-round pick, a 2024 conditional second-round pick (originally from the Washington Capitals) that becomes a top-10 protected first-round pick if Ottawa makes the 2023 Eastern Conference Final, and a 2026 second-rounder.

The Coyotes architect argued that getting a first-rounder likely in the 11-15 range - and potentially as high as sixth overall - plus two second-rounders, is more valuable than two late firsts.

Arizona possesses over $15 million in cap space - the second-most in the league. However, Armstrong said he wants to maintain flexibility to either sign free agents this offseason or take on more bad contracts in exchange for assets, as the Coyotes have often done since he was hired in September 2020.

Chychrun, 24, recorded 28 points in 36 games with the Coyotes this season. He has two goals and two assists in six contests with the Senators.

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