Should Bruins target Jakob Chychrun in a potential Ullmark transaction?

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - JANUARY 04: Jakob Chychrun #6 of the Ottawa Senators skates against the Seattle Kraken during the first period at Climate Pledge Arena on January 4, 2024 in Seattle, Washington.
Jakob Chychrun could be on the move after just one full season in Ottawa. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Linus Ullmark has built an impressive resume during his three seasons with the Bruins.

But even with a Vezina Trophy under his belt, Ullmark’s value on the trade market remains murky, largely due to the volatility associated with the goalie position.

During Boston’s end-of-season press conference last month, Don Sweeney said one team (Vancouver Canucks) secured a No. 9 overall pick in a trade for a goaltender (Cory Schneider, 2013) as an example of the assets being thrown away in a trade for a netminder.

“It’s really what teams need and what the market will bear, and ultimately it comes down to supply and demand, what a team wants and what you might ultimately have, that ultimately shapes the trade market,” Sweeney said. “There aren’t many goaltenders in return, so it’s a small sample size to begin with, but it’s likely they change and what other teams need will determine returns.”

If the Bruins find a trade candidate for Ullmark this offseason, draft capital seems like the most likely return, aside from the obvious savings that come with taking Ullmark’s $5 million cap hit off the books.

Moving forward with the term may not be a realistic option for Boston in any industry, but a high-end skater expecting a significant raise like Martin Necas could be a viable target if the stars align.

But could the Bruins somehow turn a roster luxury like Ullmark into both a player and draft picks?

Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun speculated about such a return in a recent piece that labeled Ullmark as a top offseason target for a Senators roster reshuffle.

“After the failure of an attempt to acquire goaltender Linus Ullmark from the Boston Bruins at the NHL trade deadline in March, (Senators GM Steve) Staios and the club’s hockey operations department are expected to make another pitch before the draft for June 28-29. in Las Vegas,” Garrioch wrote.

“The Senators, Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils were among several teams that attempted to sign the 30-year-old Ullmark before the deadline. There are indications that Ullmark refused to change his 15-team ‘no trade’ list, meaning a potential deal with the Devils was scuttled.”

It’s unclear whether Ullmark has Ottawa on his no-trade list, given the Senators’ defensive issues over the years and status as a team that routinely over-trades rosters, likely leaving them far from the top of the preferred destination list of the experienced goalkeeper.

A contending East Coast team like Carolina or New Jersey are stronger options for Ullmark, who could thrive in a No. 1 role and put himself in position for a nice payday as a free agent next summer.

But if the Senators are willing to put together the kind of offer Garrioch has mapped out, the Bruins may have to do everything in their power to try to get Ullmark to forego any form of trade protection.

“A league executive said Thursday that he believes the Senators would likely have to offer defenseman Jakob Chychrun along with a first-round pick and a new selection to acquire Ullmark,” Garrioch wrote. “Even then he has the hammer, because he does have the amended no-trade clause.”

That return certainly feels like a serious overpayment on the Senators’ part, even though it’s clear that goaltending is one of the most pressing needs. Ottawa posted an unsightly .884 save percentage as a team in 2023-24, which ranked 31st out of 32 NHL teams.

Jakob Chychrun makes a home point shot to get Senators on board in the home opener

The Bruins would welcome a scenario in which they recoup a first-round pick in a Ullmark deal, with Ottawa holding its own first-round pick (No. 7 overall) this summer, as well as Boston’s first-round pick in 2024 (No. 25 overall).

Boston’s first-round pick was first acquired by the Red Wings in the trade involving Tyler Bertuzzi in March 2023, but Detroit passed it on to the Senators just four months later as part of the Alex DeBrincat deal.

But it seems unlikely the Senators would make a first-round pick, another draft pick And a top-four blueliner in Chychrun who is still just 26 years old and under contract through the 2024-2025 season for a reasonable cap hit of $4.6 million.

Chychrun has long been a trade target for Boston and isn’t exactly a powerhouse on the blue line. But the Florida native would give Boston a strong trio to anchor the left side of the defense between him, Hampus Lindholm and Mason Lohrei.

The Bruins’ top priority this offseason remains more scoring talent up front, especially at the center position. But Chychrun would add an additional shooting threat to Boston’s D-corps, with the defenseman scoring 14 goals and 41 points in 82 games in 2023-24 while averaging 22:23 of ice time per game.

The ideal scenario for the Bruins when it comes to an Ullmark trade likely still involves moving him for a top-six talent up front like a Necas.

Given how unpredictable the goaltending market is, any deal that lands a minutes-consuming regular like Chychrun is likely a trade too good to pass up for the Bruins.

But in what will be a recurring theme throughout the summer, it could all come down to Ullmark’s no-trade list and the leverage he has despite his uncertain future.