At #7 in our prospect profiles is a player with possible franchise talent but with some question marks: Jakob Chychrun.
Chychrun is a 6’2″, 215-lb., left-shooting defenseman for the Sarnia Sting in the OHL. His father is former Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Jeff Chychrun. His coach with the Sting is Derian Hatcher, former NHL defenseman and captain of the Dallas Stars. With their tutelage and pedigrees, Chychrun has developed into a very mature defenseman and leader on the ice, well ahead of his age. With his combination of physical and mental maturity, Chychrun has a shot at making an NHL roster next season, and has drawn comparisons to Aaron Ekblad and Duncan Keith.
Chychrun is considered to be a “full toolbox” type of player. He has the size, strength, aggressiveness, and willingness to play a very physical game. He also has the speed, agility, and skill to create space for himself away from players rather than through them. He’s terrific in his own end, with excellent gap control, an active stick, great hockey IQ, physicality, and discipline. He excels at transitioning the puck out of his own end with crisp, accurate outlet passes. He has good hockey sense to know when to jump into the rush and when to hold back. Once in the zone, those same crisp, accurate passes set up teammates and he has a cannon of a slapshot with a compact windup. In terms of athleticism, he had an an excellent showing at the NHL Draft Combine, with top-10 results in four categories: Mean Power Output, Peak Power Output, Vertical Jump, Standing Long Jump.
However, Chychrun has big question marks surrounding his health. In his rookie season with the Sting, he suffered two separated shoulders (same shoulder) and he underwent surgery in April of 2015 to correct it. He missed a lot of time during his recovery, and his draft year campaign with the Sting suffered for it. He still finished fourth among OHL defensement in scoring, with 11 goals and 38 assists in 62 games.
Curiously, Chychrun had a mediocre showing with Team Canada at the U18 World Junior Championships this past April. His defensive partner was Dante Fabbro, who outplayed him. The normally very confident Chychrun often passed the puck over to Fabbro to quarterback plays and to transition out of their own end, rather than leading plays himself. Between his play at the U18 WJC and concerns about his shoulder, he’s dropped from a consensus top-5 pick down to a top-10 pick. It’s doubtful he’ll fall out of the top ten into the Bruins’ first pick at #14, but he might be selected after other defensemen such as Mikhail Sergachev and Olli Juolevi.
Chychrun talks with Edmonton Oilers TV about his shoulder surgery and how his season went this year: