New Jersey Devils Should Pursue Ottawa Senators Defenseman Jakob Chychrun

As injuries pile up on the New Jersey Devils defense, there is a star defenseman who could likely be had.
Pittsburgh Penguins v Ottawa Senators
Pittsburgh Penguins v Ottawa Senators / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

With almost half the season completed, the 2023-24 New Jersey Devils have been demonstrably worse than their preseason hype would have you believe. With the lackluster defensive play coupled with the sharp decline in Vitek Vanecek's and Akira Schmid's play, the 21-15-2 record seems fitting. But if we are to assume that the management wants to make a roster move with all the injuries to the skater group, what kind of move should they make?

Jonas Siegenthaler, once earmarked as the next great defensive defenseman, has fallen off a cliff this season. While not all hope is lost on him regaining his form, his broken foot that came against the Canucks does leave a sizeable hole in the Devils' D-core. This is why they should pursue a player who can replace Siegenthaler for now and in the future to help solidify the defensive pairings. A name like Jakob Chychrun makes a ton of sense.

Chychrun comes with a fair bit of controversy. After being touted as a top 5 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, Chychrun fell to 16, where the Arizona Coyotes braced his fall. Over the years, Chychrun would become one of the more underrated defensemen in the league, posting quality two-way impacts on a very poor Coyotes team. The constant push & pull of arena rights and the many injuries Chychrun faced made life in Arizona quite tough, and rumors began to surface that he wanted out. This, coupled with his team-friendly contract, made him a prime trade target.

After much speculation of him going to the LA Kings, he finally got traded, albeit to the other side of the country, to the Ottawa Senators in March of last year. It has not been easy sledding in Ottawa either, unfortunately. Chychrun again dealt with injury and was sidelined for the majority of the final stretch of the 2022-23 season, where Ottawa failed to make the playoffs. After much anticipation for this season from Sens fans, they sit 29th on the league table.

Jakob Chychrun
Sarnia Sting v London Knights / Claus Andersen/GettyImages

This is where the Devils and Tom Fitzgerald could jump in. The Devils need a steady left-handed defensive presence to lighten the load on Siegenthaler when he comes back. Ottawa and their new management may want to start from scratch and recoup assets. Perhaps a trade that includes NJ's 1st, Hameenaho/Casey, and some other prospect/pick could be enticing enough.

Now, there is also the very real possibility that Chychrun gets injured in NJ as well, but he has played in every game available this year, so the hope is that whatever injury problems he did have in Arizona have subsided.

Chychrun adds a steady defensive presence and a player who has the skill and the shot to chip in offensively. While his underlying numbers have mostly been poor in Ottawa, so has the entire team's. There are no doubts that a Chychrun-Nemec pair would be incredible. In addition, Chychrun is a good rush defender (see below) and has great instincts and technique in terms of his in-zone defending. His puck-possession game seemingly is better than Siegenthaler's as well. His impact could be the shot in the arm that Marino provided a year ago.

All in all, investing in a player like Chychrun seems like a shrewd move. Banking on his age and the ability he showed in Arizona, there is a lot he could add to this Devils team now and in the future.