After a rather busy offseason which included a couple long-term signings as well as a trade with the Canadiens, general manager John Chayka was not done there as things are continuing to get interesting out in Glendale, Arizona.
Furthermore, while having signed Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Christian Dvorak as well as goaltender Antti Raanta all to multi-year contract extensions, another name has now come up and sprung into place with the signing of defensemen Jakob Chychrun to a six-year contract extension, according to a club announcement.
Craig Morgan of The Athletic was first to report the news which was officially confirmed by the Coyotes organization within a matter of just fifteen minutes later. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet.ca was next to jump in with further details, noting that the 20-year-old native of Boca Raton, Florida would receive an annual average value of $4.6 million over the lifetime of the new deal as agreed upon by the two sides.
With Chychrun’s new deal now officially locked into place, he is set to earn a total base salary of $27.6 million over the course of the next six years as Arizona continues to lock up their youth core while looking onward towards the future.
Chychrun was originally selected by the Coyotes 16th overall back in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, taken with the pick received in the deal that sent Pavel Datsyuk’s contract to Arizona.
In a statement from John Chayka with regards to the transaction, he said, “We are extremely pleased to sign Jakob to a six-year contract extension. Jakob is a young, highly skilled defensemen with an incredibly bright future. He has battled through some adversity with injuries the last two years, but we remain confident that he has the necessary size, talent and work ethic to be one of our core players for many years to come.”
In a statement from Chychrun with regards to his new contract, he said, “I’m thrilled to be with the Coyotes for the next six years. Arizona is where I want to be. I’m excited about our group moving forward and I can’t wait to be a big part of it.”
Chychrun has yet to appear in a regular season game after having undergone knee surgery over the offseason which he has since spent time recovering from while placed on the team’s IR. As noted by Matt Layman of Arizona Sports, Chychrun has been showing signs of an unusually fast recovery, however, the club has opted to err on the sign of caution and stuck to a normal timetable of rehabilitation.
With that in mind, after having missed out on the first month 1/2 of regular season play, head coach Rick Tocchet confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that Chychrun will make his season debut at Little Caesars Arena against Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin as well as the Detroit Red Wings organization.
It is expected that Jakob Chychrun will play on a pairing with veteran Niklas Hjalmarsson upon his return which means that defensemen Dakota Mermis has been sent back to the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners after serving as the depth option up in the place of Jakob Chychrun.
With Mermis’ departure after opening the season in the NHL, it means that it will require the team to make a roster move to clear space, however, it does not have to happen immediately which for the time being may cause a little of a logjam on the club’s blue line.
Taking a look at the entirety of his career thus far in, Chychrun has recorded 11 goals and 23 assists, making for a total of 34 points registered over 118 NHL games played. He also adds 63 penalty minutes to his resume.
As noted by Sportsnet, prior to finding his way to the big league stage with the Coyotes, Chychrun was a standout minor-hockey player, applying for exceptional status into the USHL when he was 15-years-old. As the story goes on the mention, his application was denied and he finished his minor-hockey career in the Greater Toronto Hockey League.
He then found his way into the Ontario Hockey League where he spent two seasons with the Sarnia Sting who subsequently selected his contract upon the conclusion of his tenure in the GTHL.
As for international play that Chychrun has taken part in, the dual citizen has represented Canada at the under-17 and under-18 levels and will look to find his groove when he rejoins a re-bolstered roster which includes 24-year-old centerman Alex Galchenyuk who was acquired from Montreal back in June for Max Domi.
Taking a look at his performance for the 2017-2018 season, Chychrun recorded four goals to go alongside 10 assists, making for a total of points registered in 50 games played.
As per James Tanner of HockeyBuzz.com, Chychrun’s entry-level contract is set to expire at the conclusion of the season before his new deal kicks in at the beginning of the 2019-2020 season.
While Chychrun does present to be someone who is very prone to injury, this transaction represents a high reward potential with very little risk while it is also scheduled to go through the majority of his prime.
It is also worth noting the fact of which Chychrun’s cap hit during his new term quite small and therefore is only going to look smaller as time continues to go by.
In this case of which this contract does exactly what it’s suppose to do, it could easily be compared to that of Toronto Maple Leafs centerman Nazem Kadri, that is of course if he ends up to become that high-end top pairing defensemen that perhaps the Coyotes are looking for him to grow into with this new contract.
While injuries have played an effect on him in both of his first two years in the NHL, it’s very possible given his age that this season could be the start of a breakout for the youngster as he looks to hit the ceiling of what he has the ability to be if he strives to give it his absolute best on an each and everyday basis.
The hope of course is that he will eventually live up to his potential as he is only 20-years-old and therefore has plenty in the tank to prove and provide to a rebuilding franchise looking to shoot high in a new direction.
In looking at his salary from an outside perspective looking in, some may think that the number is a bit high for what he has accomplished so far to date which by all means of course is completely fair given his production rate to this point, however, it, much like himself, could age very well if he aims his abilities anywhere near the expectations that come with a deal of this particular stature and magnitude.
Given the raw talent which he has only grown and developed with since his days in junior hockey, it should give Arizona a sense in which they don’t have to concern themselves with worry as Chychrun is the kind of guy who has a fire built within him and therefore will look to push, grind and outperform against all opposing figures in his way as he looks to hunt down success in what will hopefully turn out to be his first full season out in the bigs.
Chychrun, who currently weighs in at 6-foot-2, 210-pounds, was set to become a restricted free agent at the immediate conclusion of the season, however, is now on board through to the end of the 2024-2025 season where he will then become one of many to be listed as an unrestricted free agent.
In signing Jakob Chychrun to a long-term contract, the Coyotes lock up a key piece of their defence core for the future that they hope will continue to improve and ultimately develop into that top defensemen they are looking for.
When asked to elaborate on what this signing means for the Coyotes going forward, Chayka said that they are confident in his abilities despite his history with injuries. “He has battled through some adversity with injuries the last two years, but we remain confident that he has the necessary size, talent and work ethic to be one of our core players for many years to come.”
Taking a look now at some of the feats and accomplishments that Chychrun has recorded thus far to date, not only was he nominated for the Bill Masterton trophy for his performance this past season but he has also played the most games and scored the most goals among all defensemen from the 2016 draft class.
Looking back briefly upon his 2016-2017 season, Chychrun also became the youngest player in Coyotes history to make his NHL debut with the team (18 years, 198 days). Adding to this impressive feat, he also became the youngest player in team history to score a goal while he registered the third-most points in Coyotes history among rookie defensemen.
Chychrun could very well be that key piece that the Coyotes are looking to have home grown if all goes to plan, and therefore, the young defensemen both stretches and rises above in the next chapter of what is to come ahead in his professional hockey career.