(photo via nhl.com)
General Managers of small market teams used to have plenty of hurdles to cover. Having to walk over small budgets while hitting the cap floor while attempting to stay competitive. But there’s one GM that’s absolutely changing the game.
While it seems to be a simple concept (and it really is) 26 year old John Chayka has developed a plan and stuck to. Eating dead cap space to acquire young assets keeps him at the cap floor, not spending real dollars and building one of the best young cores in the league.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to see a 26 year old genius be succeeding as an NHL GM. This is a man who built of one of the largest stats companies (Stathletes) with his brother in-law before most people have moved out of their parents basement (He was 21 when they started).
I took a look at his first summer in charge in Arizona, although his presence can be seen as far back as 2015, when he was assistant GM.
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Although some of the moves appear a little weird on the surface,, the young GM has done a great job of balancing a competitive team while stacking the organizations cupboards for the future.
Chayka saw a free agent he wanted in Alex Goligoski and instead of waiting it out until the negotiations period he went out and took a stab at him with a 5th round pick. He got a little bit of heat for doing it, but many recognized that it was a bold move especially for a new GM.
Speed ahead to the draft when a once highly sought after d-man Jakob Chychrun was slipping hard and Chayka saw the opportunity and pounced. Giving up a 2nd round pick and having to eat Pavel Datsyuk’s dead cap space (and minimal real dollars) to move up and take Chychrun with the 16th overall pick. Move ahead to beginning of the season and Chychrun has cracked the Coyotes opening night roster and has played up to the potential many saw a year ago.
Chayka also went to Florida and took the big money deal of Dave Bolland and gave up a pair of draft picks and got Lawson Crouse, who went 11th overall just a year ago. Now again, Crouse has played well enough in camp to take a spot on the Coyotes 23 man roster. A pair of draft picks and some dead cap space and all the sudden Chayka has grabbed a 19 year old top nine winger.
Of course a young core can only get you so far in today’s league. So Chayka and the rest of the Coyotes brass brought in some strong veterans to play crucial supporting roles with Radim Vrbata and Luke Schenn. Again he gets two serviceable NHLers for a whopping $2.25mil.
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John Chayka might be one of the best things to happen to this league off the ice in a long time. He’s taking the way teams are built in a direction that most organizations will only tip their toes in, and that’s through straight up analytics.
It’s always a great thing for any sport when someone comes into a position of power and has a different way of thinking.
I for one am beyond excited to see what John Chayka will continue to do for the league, and the rest of the hockey world should be as well.