Kerby Rychel wants out of Columbus- this much is known. Where to, exactly, is anyone’s best guess.
An article by Aaron Portzline reports that Toronto is among one of at least seven teams who have expressed interest in the 2013 first round pick after his trade request. With that many options, it seems like Columbus is most likely to wait for a perfect offer before giving up on a guy who’s supposed to be among their top prospects. However, as in any trade deal, they may be forced to undersell.
Why Rychel Wants Out
Taken 19th overall, Rychel has yet to stick with the big club- putting up six assists in sixteen games over this season and last- while putting up 51 points in 71 games at the AHL level over the last two seasons. 18 of those points have come in 20 games this season with the Lake Erie Monsters- good enough for second in team scoring.
While putting up respectable numbers in the AHL, Rychel hasn’t played more than 9:31 in an NHL game this season. It doesn’t take much to figure out that a first-round pick like Rychel’s looking for a place that will give him regular NHL ice-time. As Rychel’s always been a scorer – putting up 87 points in his draft year, it seems he’s looking for a role in a team’s top-six, rather than be rarely utilized on a team’s fourth line.
Does Rychel make sense in Toronto?
An interview from earlier this year with Elliotte Freidman stated Columbus was looking for a young defenceman. The article adds that a potential Shea Theodore (Anaheim’s 2013 first round pick)-Rychel trade was shut down on the Ducks’ side.
Purely based on draft position, (excluding Morgan Rielly and Dion Phaneuf, for obvious reasons), Toronto doesn’t have any first-round defencemen to offer at the NHL level. Stuart Percy, Frank Corrado, Rinat Valiev, Scott Harrington and Viktor Loov are the Leafs’ other defencemen 22 or under at the NHL/AHL levels. It’s unlikely the Leafs are looking to move a player like Travis Dermott who’s yet to even taste the waters of professional hockey- so if the Leafs are looking to acquire Rychel, they’ll more likely than not have to move one of those assets.
Rychel, ultimately, is a gamble. He’s shown decent production in the AHL, and came into the league fairly high profile, but still has yet to do anything impressive in his limited NHL time.
Whatever team acquires his rights is probably hoping to give him more of a chance at the NHL level. If the price is right and the Leafs value him highly enough, Toronto may be in- but don’t consider it a terrible thing if they don’t bite.