Wednesday, May 25 2022

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When a player of Jacob Chychrun’s capabilities hits the trade market – as rumoured to be via Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek, the Arizona Coyotes prized defensemen should attract at the very least a kick of the tires from every team in the league.

After having recovered from an upper body injury and placed into COVID protocol – news actually was announced that he was activated out of injury reserve this morning – the 23-year old standout is locked in for a bargain $4.6 million for four more years including the remainder of 2021-22, on a six-year $27.6 million contract signed in 2019, while performing well above expectations.

Health concerns have plagued the rearguard throughout his NHL career, enough to make teams somewhat hesitant of a potential overpay in trade assets. Or not .. the NHL is a funny place sometimes with injury information and teams take chances on fragile players all the time *cough – Ondrej Kase – cough*.

Regardless, a team that is trading for him, similar to the acquisition of Mark Stone at the NHL trade deadline to Vegas, this is a deal for immediate and future capacity.

As fodder for those conversations – considering he’s somewhat buried on the perpetually rebuilding/retooling Arizona Coyotes – Chychrun is ranked 26th overall in the NHL for defensemen scoring from 2019-2022 at 5v5, mostly partnered with the now Wild defenseman, Alex Goligoski.

His goal scoring ability – especially from the left point – has been exploited on the power play where he’s tied for second overall in goals scored among defensemen at 5v4 over the same time span.

The goals scoring shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as expected when considering he scored 16 and 11 goals in 42 and 62 games as a member of the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League. He was drafted to lead a rebuilding Sarnia effort, but uncharacteristic mistakes and fumbles during his second year with the Sting, had the effect of seeing his stock plummet during his draft eligible season, making him a 16th overall pick in 2016. He’s scored 48 goals since his NHL debut, which is equal to 35% the goals scored by all defensemen taken in the first round in 2016 – a list that includes Charlie McAvoy and Mikhail Sergachev.

I wrote Chychrun’s profile for the McKeen’s Yearbook in 2019-20, on the heels of some lingering health issues from knee surgery that derailed his 2018-19 season.

McKeen’s 2019-20 Yearbook – Fleet and imposing blueliner with size, speed and hockey sense .. improved gap control and picking spots to support the rush – likes to carry it too .. spearheads rushes and pushes the pace .. remarkably agile and coordinated for his size .. excels in transition .. signed a six-year extension in mid-November becoming part of a core group of players after recovering from knee surgery .. missed more time with upper and lower body injuries and didn’t seem to get a handle on health at all .. late season health scratches posed deeper challenges, but goes into 2019-20 with a clean slate and new opportunities .. fared close to career averages in shooting metrics despite unfavorable on-ice conditions – a sign for a better result with better conditions .. proper slotting and 5v4 time could produce his first 30-point season.

He scored 12 goals and ended the season with 26 points in 63 games. Coincidentally, and somewhat convenient, to an increase in scoring that season was a significant drop in the amount of hits. His aggression was weaned back and made the trend that had been lowering settle to just over three hits per 60 minutes.

*** Data is provided by NaturalStatTrick.com.

Season

Team

GP

TOI

Hits/60

Hits Taken

/60

ARI

68

986.70

6.1

5.7

ARI

50

859.42

5.1

4.9

ARI

53

898.18

4.7

5.9

ARI

63

1117.90

3.6

6.2

ARI

56

1025.03

3.2

3.6

ARI

26

489.03

3.3

5.2

Since his rookie season – with the focus on hits, he’s been less aggressive in the past three seasons by almost half. As a defenseman, he is normally targeted for scheduled physical contact with puck dumps and excessive battling in corners and along boards to pry away pucks but his hits taken per 60 minutes has remained consistent except for the 2020-21 season.

And let’s check in to that season’s production at 5v5.

Season

GP

TOI

G

A

1A

2A

Pts

IPP

S%

ixG

68

986.70

6

12

5

7

18

56.3

8.0

3.87

50

859.42

1

6

3

3

7

21.9

1.3

3.73

53

898.18

2

9

3

6

11

42.3

2.5

3.06

63

1117.90

7

9

4

5

16

33.3

6.7

4.21

56

1025.03

12

14

8

6

26

54.2

10.2

5.63

26

489.03

1

4

2

2

5

55.6

1.7

2

He scored 12 goals at even strength, at an uncharacteristic – and unsustainable – 10.2% individual shooting percentage. Even when accepting the high shooting percentage, his IPP is telling contrast as to what is happening between seasons.

In ’20-21 he recorded a point on 54.2% of goals scored while on the ice leading to 26 points, with a balanced mix of first to second assists to augment the breakthrough goals scoring season.

In ‘21-22 he’s earned points at relatively the same clip, 55.6%, but only amassing one goal and five points as a result. In 57 minutes of 5v4 time – where he should be able to showcase his burgeoning skillset – he’s scored once constituting 33.3% of the goals scored while on the ice.

The Coyotes offensive struggles are real – and they’re affecting his production. At 5v5, Arizona hasn’t produced as expected and the anemic offense is blatantly obvious.

The table below shows the Coyotes on-ice results from Chychrun’s rookie season. They closely matched the team expected goals, except for the 14 expected in ‘21-22 with only nine scored, and a minus 13.2 goals against expected. Unable to score at one end, and unable to keep the puck out of the net is never a progressive outcome. Team effects aside, Chychrun’s lack of production hasn’t been due to the skill set, but more so to do with the lack of finishing talent.

Season

GP

TOI

xGF

xGA

GF

GA

68

986.70

30.09

43.1

32

45

50

859.42

33.88

35

32

29

53

898.18

37.37

33.4

26

33

63

1117.90

43.38

44.6

48

42

56

1025.03

42.78

40.2

48

44

26

489.03

14.17

17.8

9

31

Which leads to the potential Chychrun move out of the desert and onto a more prominent club willing to insert him into an improved structure.

His salary and skillset screams for a solid second pairing – that can shift up to a first pairing in case of injury.

But a team that trades for his services will be gouged by the price – maximizing the return value to Arizona to once again, begin the cycle of rebuilding. The Coyotes enter the 2022 NHL Entry Draft with picks in the first two rounds. Despite the COVID-infested developmental leagues having all those high ranking picks would surely begin another solid foundation into which to build a solid NHL club.

After all having success at picking solid first round selections is a sure fire path to success – right Edmonton?

Source: Yahoo Sports

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