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Top Five Defenseman to Watch Ahead of NHL Trade Deadline

The trade deadline is approaching fast. Let's take a look at the five most attractive defensemen who could move in the coming days.
Jakob Chychrun

The trade deadline is less than a week away, and things are quiet. 

Too quiet. 

With a host of useful trade chips supposedly available and a list of teams who could certainly use one or two, the market is unlikely to stay stagnant for long. 

So, before things get crazy, let's take a look at the five most attractive defensemen on the trading block, and what they could add to their potential new teams. 

5. Justin Braun 
Age: 35
Shot: Right
Contract: Pending UFA, $1.8 million

Chuck Fletcher has made some seriously questionable decisions during his tenure as Flyers GM. Can you also say that about basically any time he's been in an NHL front office? Yes, you can. He's not a great executive. But we'll just focus on the mess he's making in Philadelphia -- one which will only grow larger if he doesn't trade Justin Braun prior to the deadline. 

Braun is not going to reinvent the wheel out there, let's make that clear. The 35-year-old is a depth option at this point in his career regardless of how the Flyers are pumping him full of top-four minutes in the hopes of dumping him, with Braun taking a good chunk of Philly's defensive zone starts and tough assignments to expectedly mediocre results. 

The Flyers have been out-scored and out-chanced across the board in Braun's even-strength minutes this season, winning 45.5 percent of the expected goals and surrendering 56.52 percent of the high-danger scoring chances. 

Put Braun on a third pair, though, and things take a turn for the better. Braun's results in those areas all trend above the 50 percent mark dating back to the 2018-19 season, during which Braun would average 17-18 minutes per night rather than the upwards of 20 he's logging today. 

As a veteran on an expiring deal, Philly's price almost certainly won't be too tough to swallow. And for a contender in desperate need of a capable depth right-shot depth, you could definitely find worse options. 

4. Ben Chiarot
Age: 30 
Shot: Left
Contract: Pending UFA, $3.5 million 

Ben Chiarot is an interesting player. His underlying numbers are pretty rough across the board throughout his career, with Chiarot's team surrendering 60 percent or more of the expected goals with him on the ice in six of his eight full NHL seasons. 

But Chiarot does have one thing that teams, and specifically those preparing for the postseason, value highly: A big body. 

Chiarot is a menace in front of the net. The guy is a nightmare in and around the crease, capable of clearing the slot with the best of them thanks to a heavy frame that seems suited quite well for the rigors of a deep playoff run. While he might not rack up gaudy offensive numbers or boast the analytical track record of others on this list, Chiarot's physicality and daunting presence make him a sought-after trade chip around the league. 

A first-round pick, which reports seem to indicate as the Canadiens' asking price moving forward, is too high. Let's just get that out there right now. But GMs have been known to overpay for the one missing piece of their roster. And when it comes to Chiarot, you better believe more than a few front offices view him as such. 

Basically, Chiarot is the quintessential win-now addition. He's over 30, set to hit free agency in the off-season, and his tools are most suited for hockey in April-June. But if that's all you're going to be using him for, well, why not? 

3. Mark Giordano
Age: 38
Shot: Left
Contract: Pending UFA, $6.75 million

A dream rental. That's what Mark Giordano is. 

The guy is a former Norris winner, a battle-tested veteran on an expiring deal who has captained the only two franchises he's belonged to, and is among the top of every annual "get this guy a Cup" power rankings. 

What more could you want? 

Giordano is no longer the blueline stalwart he was in Calgary. But the 38-year-old still has plenty left in the tank, nearly drawing even in expected goals while playing top-pair minutes for a moribund Seattle Kraken team while also generating 50.54 percent and 52 percent of the regular and high-danger scoring chances at even-strength, respectively. 

Factor in a decent 23 points in 55 games, and Giordano is the perfect "last piece" for any contender looking to shore up their blueline and locker room dynamic with one of the best assets available. 

It's something of a win-win for both sides, really. The Kraken can rake in a haul of assets for their rebuild in exchange for a guy they paid zero assets for, and any inquiring teams can use Giordano's age and contract status to keep the asking price out of the stratosphere. 

Get this guy a Cup!

2. Hampus Lindholm
Age: 28 
Shot: Left
Contract: Pending UFA, $5.2 million

Ok, so there is a bit of a separation between Hampus Lindholm's reputation in hockey circles and the player he actually is on the ice.

Something tells me that not a lot of you watch Anaheim Ducks games religiously. And neither do I. We're all in this together, east coast friends. There's no shame in the time-zone game. 

Lindholm is a fantastic defenseman. Is he the bonafide number one that people tend to view him as? No. Lindholm has a remarkably well-rounded game that, while making him "pretty good" at nearly everything, also makes him "great" at nothing. 

Some teams might look at that as a selling point. Others, a drawback. It depends on what you value. 

Lindholm is a minute-muncher, averaging upwards of 22 minutes per night throughout his nine-year NHL career. He's also 28, smack-dab in the middle of his prime, and his style of play should allow him to continue as a solid top-four, top-two-in-a-pinch guy for the next four-to-five years.  

A change of scenery could likely help, too. 

After a stretch of positive results, the Ducks are getting out-scored and out-chanced across the board with Lindholm on the ice this year, winning only 46.67 percent of the expected goals in Lindholm's even-strength minutes to this point while generating just 48.68 percent and 44.79 percent of the regular and high-danger scoring chances, respectively. 

There has to be an explanation for that somewhere. 

Perhaps Lindholm's dip can be attributed to the Ducks strapping him almost exclusively to rookie Jamie Drysdale, who, while being a talented prospect, is still getting accustomed to the NHL pace. It might be hard to flourish when you spend half the game babysitting your talented yet inexperienced little brother. Maybe all Lindholm needs is an established defense partner to regain his stride -- which, mind you, a move to a contender like Florida would definitely give him. 

Based on Lindholm's age and track record, Anaheim is going to ask for the sun and the moon in exchange for their home-grown defender. And if any team is willing to reach it, that offer should likely come with a lengthy contract extension, too. 

1. Jakob Chychrun 
Age: 23
Contract: Three more years, $4.6 million

If the Arizona Coyotes truly are dumb enough to give this guy up, every GM in the league should be blowing up Bill Armstrong's phone. 

Chyrchrun is the type of defender that rarely ever hits the open trade market. The guy is just 23, years away still from hitting his prime, is coming off a season in which he racked up 18 goals in 56 games with practically no surrounding talent, is under contract through 2026 for less than friggin Rasmus Ristolainen, and logs 23 minutes per night while starting 56 percent of his shifts in the defensive zone. 

What more could you want? 

While the Coyotes' reported ask of an "Eichel-like package" might be a tad steep, it's not wholly unreasonable, either. Chychrun is a phenomenal asset who would instantly become one of the best defenders, if not THE best defender on whichever team he ends up with. 

After an injury scare earlier this week, Chychrun's ailment is seemingly less serious than he initially feared, and likely won't take him off the trade market as we head into the final weekend before deadline day. 

If you can pony up the assets for him, do it. 

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