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Could the Senators still be in on Jakob Chychrun?

Ottawa allowed the sixth-most shots against per game in the NHL last season and rookie Jake Sanderson was their only notable addition.
2019-03-06 Pierre Dorion
Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion. Photo/ The Canadian Press

The Ottawa Senators are once again a "must watch" team early in the season.

Any team that such a decisively positive summer would be.

How are all the changes going to come together, and could they challenge for a playoff spot? Just what does Jake Sanderson do in his rookie season, and will Tim Stutzle take another big step in year three after signing a big money, long-term extension?

But there is one big area of potential concern here. All of Ottawa's splashy upgrades came up front and even the goaltending was upgraded with Cam Talbot. The blue line is where the issues may begin. Ottawa allowed the sixth-most shots against per game in the National Hockey League (NHL) last season and rookie Jake Sanderson was their only notable addition. As Adam Vingan pointed out this week, turnovers and clearing the defensive zone was an issue for Ottawa's defencemen in 2021-22.

General manager (GM) Pierre Dorion admitted in his pre-camp media session that finding ways to improve the blue line is a priority this season and pointed out they have the cap flexibility to make a move. According to Cap Friendly, the Senators have a projected $5.6 million in cap space right now.

Dating back to last season, one of the players most mentioned with Ottawa in trade rumours was Jakob Chychrun.

"The team that's been hot in the Jakob Chychrun rumour mill all summer has been Ottawa," Elliotte Friedman said on the 32 Thoughts podcast. "I don't think it's wrong. I think I've said before I'm not convinced it's ever been close. I've had some people say it's never been as close as it's been hinted at times. But the conversations have been there off and on."

Chychrun scored 18 goals in 56 games two seasons ago, but was limited to 47 games last season to injury. He needed to have bone spurs removed from his ankle and have wrist surgery in the summer, so Chychrun wasn't ready to start camp with the Coyotes last week. It's not yet clear when he will be cleared to hit the ice.

There is intriguing upside here with a 24-year-old defenceman who can play top pair minutes, produce, and still has three years left on a contract that pays just $4.6 million against the cap.

What would the price of acquisition be? Jeff Marek mentioned that Arizona was believed to be hoping for something along the lines of the 2011 Brent Burns-to-San Jose trade, which was 22-goal man Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle and a first-round pick. At the time that was one established 24-year-old NHL player who was taken in the first round, a first-round prospect from the year before, and a fresh first-rounder. Three first-round picks, if you will.

Would the Senators meet that price?

"I think one of the players Arizona liked was Shane Pinto from Ottawa and I think Ottawa has made it very clear they're not doing that."

The Senators surely won't be the only team in on Chychrun and while we could rhyme off a list of other possible suitors from St. Louis to Toronto, Vancouver and beyond, there are probably a few others quietly lurking in the weeds.

This rumour won't be going anywhere soon. Though currently injured, Chychrun did confirm last week that his preference was to find a trade out of Arizona.

"I don't want these years to keep going by and be 10, 12 years in and not had a real good chance at not only the playoffs, but winning the Stanley Cup," Chychrun said. "That's really my mentality and where I'm at and I think the team understands that, to get moved to a situation with a chance to win and a team that's fighting for the Stanley Cup."

Ottawa's not there yet, but seem to aggressively be moving in the desired direction.

 

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