At the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, the Arizona Coyotes used their first pick to draft forward Clayton Keller. They also had the New York Rangers' first-round pick, which along with a second-round pick and Joe Vitale's contract to the Detroit Red Wings for Pavel Datsyuk's contract and the chance to move up four spots to 16th overall. With that 16th overall pick, the Coyotes drafted defenseman Jakob Chychrun.
19/20 League: NHL (Arizona Coyotes)
Games played: 63
Highest rating: 1
Lowest rating: 1
We may never know what caused Chychrun to drop at the draft. He was a highly rated prospect, listed as the fourth North American Skater at the NHL Central Scouting and top defenseman. But the rest of the league's loss was the Coyotes' gain.
Unlike most players, Chychrun was able to make the jump to the NHL right away. He played immediately after being drafted, finishing with 7 goals and 13 assists in 68 games.
Chychrun would have to endure a few bumps in his development. He has struggled to deal with lower-body injuries, which has led to him missing some games. He has played in the NHL for the past four seasons but has yet to play a full season. He has played in at least 50 games each season though.
This past season would be a big one for Chychrun. He missed a few games but was able to play in 63 of the Coyotes 70 total games. He had a career-high 12 goals and 26 points, showing continued improvement offensively. He also saw the NHL playoffs for the first time in his career, recording a goal in nine games.
Chychrun had already impressed former-GM John Chayka enough that he was signed long-term on November 13, 2018. He was signed to a six-year deal with an annual average salary of $4.6 million. Heis in the second year of that contract, and given his growth and the minutes he plays that deal is going to continue being a steal.
Most of the Coyotes did not do well in the postseason. For many players, especially the younger ones, this was their first experience playing in the postseason and they seemed nervous. Coach Tocchet recently described Chychrun's play during that time as "more tentative" something Chychrun agreed with. Hopefully, the next time he sees playoff action it will be less of an adjustment for the young defensemen.
The Arizona Coyotes have a lot of really good, young defensemen. If the Coyotes can build from the blue-line out with players like Chychrun they should have a bright future. Chychrun is one of the Coyotes' best players and at 22 he is only going to get better.