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Countdown to TradeCentre: Action around Chychrun picking up


Ahead of Friday's NHL Trade Deadline, teams are making decisions on whether to buy or sell, and on which players can make the biggest difference and hold the greatest value. Check out today's trade rumours and speculation from around the NHL beat.

Chychrun watch back on?

After being a top name leading into last year's deadline before being traded to the Ottawa Senators, talks involving Jakob Chychrun appear to be picking up again as this year's deadline looms.

Chcychrun, listed at No. 27 on the TSN Trade Bait board is signed through next season at a cap hit of $4.6 million.

"I’m sensing with the D market quickly shrinking action around Jakob Chychrun has picked up," TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger wrote on X Monday. "Doesn’t mean there’s a deal to be made, but teams are likely thinking at least two playoff runs with him may be worth the asking price."

Having been acquired for three draft picks last year, Chychrun sounded off on the reports he could be moved in an interview with The Athletic in January, calling Ottawa "a second home." 

Senators president and general manager Steve Staios said last week that while teams are calling on the blueliner, it's "disappointing" word on that leaked.

"If I'm on the other side of things and looking at our team, he's a player that I'd be calling about as well," Staios told the Got Yer Back podcast with TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun and Ryan Rishaug. "It is a bit disappointing... As a player you got to learn how to deal with this, just being an NHL player and the amount of attention, especially if you're an elite player like Jakob. Conversations happen all the time and names get bandied about all the time.

"Disappointing that it came out, I think that we do our best to keep these things in house out of respect for the players, in particular. But certainly it's that time of year so these things do happen."

Chychrun has nine goals and 31 points in 59 games this season. He sits third on the team in average ice time at 22:35 per game.


Time to sell in Pittsburgh?

The Pittsburgh Penguins lost 6-1 to the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday, completing their four-game road trip with a 1-3-0 record and losing further ground in the playoff race.

With a 4-5-1 record in their past 10 games, the Penguins currently sit 10 points back of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the final wild-card spot with three games in hand. Penguins first-year president and general manager Kyle Dubas said on Feb. 21 he wanted to give his team "a chance" to improve their standing, which has not happened. 

"I suspect it was never in question, but this Western trip makes things so much easier on Kyle Dubas internally," The Athletic's Rob Rossi wrote on X after Sunday's loss. "No person in Penguins organization could reasonably argue against him trading Guentzel, Smith, Eller, Nedeljkovic, [Ruhwedel], etc."

Jake Guentzel is the top forward on the TSN Trade Bait board, checking in at No. 2. The 29-year-old pending unrestricted free agent was the team's leading scorer before getting hurt last month. He appears to be nearing a return, but that could come with a new team. 

“I understand how valuable he’s been as a teammate, person in the community, contributor to helping the team win the Stanley Cup, and so on and so forth. It’s important,” Dubas said on Feb. 21. “But at the same time, we have to take stock with where we’re at and be realistic about the fact that one of the issues we have is we need to get younger. We have a lot of guys in their 30s signed, some of them are some of the best players in the history of the franchise.

“It’s tough with Jake, as I’ve said to him, because he’s an excellent player and playing at an elite level. We have to find a way to continue to have those solid veteran guys, but also continue to get younger at the same time.”

Carrying a cap hit of $6 million on his expiring deal, Guentzel has 22 goals and 52 points in 50 games this season. 

Off-season addition Reilly Smith is listed at No. 29 on the Trade Bait board, though he remains signed through next season at a cap hit of $5 million. Forward Lars Eller, goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic, defenceman Chad Ruhwedel, all listed by Rossi, could also be on the their way out in Pittsburgh. 

Eller, 34, remains signed for two more seasons at a cap hit of $2.45 million, while Nedeljkovic and Ruhwedel are pending unrestricted free agents. 

While trades may be looming, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby shut down any discussion of the deadline in the Penguins' locker room when asked if he had started to look at the bigger picture after Sunday's loss.

"The deadline date hasn’t changed and we still need to get points, so I don’t know what kind of picture you’re talking about, but yeah it’s the same situation it was yesterday," Crosby said.

Pittsburgh is on track to miss the playoffs for a second straight season after 16-year run of making the postseason. 


Buying in Edmonton

On the opposite side of Sunday's game, the Edmonton Oilers picked up a fourth straight win as the team continues to try to close on the Vancouver Canucks atop the Pacific Division.

After a slow start to the season, the Oilers are in form and appear set to be buyers once again at this year's deadline, though general manager Ken Holland isn't tipping his hand on where he's looking to add.

Holland told Daniel Nugent-Bowman of The Athletic that giving up less goals is a priority, but that could be addressed by adding a forward or a defenceman.

"We’re sixth in goals scored. In terms of (goal) differential, we’re eighth," Holland said of the team's stats as of Friday. "Goals against, we got as high as eighth in the league. We’ve slipped to 12th. I always look at top 10. If you’re in the top third of the league in multiple categories, that’s a good thing.

"What are we looking for? We’re looking to make our team a little bit deeper. That’s what you do at this time of year. We’ve played the same six defencemen every night — touch wood. We’ve had good success and good luck with health. Broberg was playing excellent hockey down at the American League level until he got hurt. He’s going to be back playing Monday or Wednesday in Bakersfield.

"So, we’ll explore. We’re open to forwards or defence. We’ll see what’s available. The cap’s a factor. The assets are a factor. We’ve been spending lots and lots of draft picks since I’ve been here, trying to take a run every year. I got it from my time in Detroit. We did that for 14-15 years. You just can’t blow all your draft picks out in one year because the next year these same questions come, and you’ve got to have some draft capital to be able to do something."

According to CapFriendly, the Oilers are projected to have just under $2.4 million in cap space by Friday's deadline. Edmonton also owns their first- and second-round picks this year, having previously moved their third- and fourth-round selections. 

Once position Holland is not looking at ahead of the deadline is goaltending, as the general manager intends to stick with Stuart Skinner and Calvin Pickard, noting Jack Campbell is always available from the AHL as well. 

"No. I’m not exploring the market at all," he told Nugent-Bowman. "I’ve got a guy that was a Calder Trophy finalist with 27 wins and he’s (25) years of age. (Calvin Pickard) has come up and he’s done a real good job. He’s got a save percentage of .905 in his role as a backup. Jack Campbell’s played about as good a hockey as he’s (ever) played. He’s over a .920 save percentage (in the AHL) since the beginning of December. He seems to be settled in and playing great. Olivier Rodrigue continues to perform and produce at a high level.

"We feel really good about our goaltending."

The Oilers have a 37-20-2 record and sit nine points back of the Canucks for first in the division with four games in hand. 

Price for Dumba?

Pending unrestricted free agent Matt Dumba may be on his way out from the Arizona Coyotes after inking a one-year, $3.9 million deal in the off-season.

After posting four goals and nine points in 57 games this season, Craig Morgan of PHNX Sports believes Dumba could fetch a third-round pick, but notes the return could rise to a second-rounder if the Coyotes retain salary.

Arizona has been stockpiling draft picks over the past few seasons, owning nine in the first four rounds of this year's draft and seven in the first three rounds next year. Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong told Morgan those picks could be used to upgrade their returns at the deadline. 

“People mistake the approach of getting more picks,” Armstrong said. “They think that we will keep picking. We might, but we also could get [players such as current Coyotes] Jack McBain and Sean Durzi because of those picks so it gives you a lot of different options to do a lot of different things.

"You’re really just trying to gain assets, but I’m not so sure there are any clubs that have gone through the process with as many picks as we have. It creates many options, not only to draft players, but to acquire players.”

After going winless in the month of February, Arizona is set to miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season.