NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It was the tweet that launched a thousand eyeball emojis.
The Arizona Coyotes’ announcement Saturday that they were scratching defenceman Jakob Chychrun for “trade-related reasons” set social media ablaze and sent insiders rushing to their phones.
Chychrun has been at the centre of trade rumours for more than a year after it became public that he and the Coyotes decided that a move would be mutually beneficial. It appears that the drawn-out process could be coming to an end.
Chychrun will be held out again Monday against the Nashville Predators and “will remain out of the lineup until something happens,” Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said. Chychrun was not made available to reporters Monday morning.
“It’s not a situation that happened overnight,” Tourigny said. “He knew what was coming. We all knew. He’s (dealt) with (it) like an ultimate pro. His attitude this year was phenomenal. He was a good teammate, helped his teammates, smiled every day, showed up at the rink, worked hard, blocked shots, improved, played our system and all of it. He behaved like he should, like a real pro, so credit to him.
“Now it’s time for the organization to take care of business and to make sure we’re on the safe side of everything.”
On Saturday, Jeff Marek reported on Hockey Night in Canada that Chychrun will not be going to either the Edmonton Oilers or Toronto Maple Leafs. The Los Angeles Kings and Boston Bruins have been linked to Chychrun, who has seven goals and 28 points in 36 games this season.
Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong is reportedly seeking a significant return for Chychrun, and understandably so. Chychrun, 24, is an excellent puck-mover and has a great defensive stick. He also comes with a $4.6 million cap hit through 2025 — a bargain for a defenceman of his calibre.
“He will grow a lot from (this) situation, because last year it played in his mind a lot,” Tourigny said. “It consumed him. It was tough mentally for him. He arrived this year ready for it. … He’s dealt with it really well. (There was) not one day in the room we felt, ‘OK, he’s checked out. He’s just waiting for (a trade to happen).’ He was all in.”
Asked if Chychrun had played his final game for the franchise that picked him at No. 16 overall in the 2016 NHL Draft, Tourigny said that it is not his decision.
“We’re at that point where (Armstrong) wants to be on the smart side,” Tourigny said. “That’s not my call to make. I don’t have a vote on that one. He’s not dressing this week, that’s for sure. (Armstrong) is doing his thing. As far as we’re concerned, he’s not available (for us).”