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2016 NHL Draft prospect profile: Jakob Chychrun is expected to be one of the first defenders to go

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Jakob Chychrun impressed scouts with his rookie year, but had a bit of a tough time this past year. Is he worth the hype that still surrounds him?

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Scouts have been high on Jakob Chychrun since his rookie season with the Sarnia Sting. The big defender turned some heads with 16 goals and 33 points through 42 games that year, and interest has not faded since. Though he hit a bit of a speed bump in his sophomore year, he is still expected to be a top-15 pick in this year's draft.

Chychrun has a tantalizing size profile for a mobile defenceman, which goes a long way to explaining why NHL scouts like him. He is a two-way defender with a lot of potential, and his ceiling figures to be that of a top pairing defenceman in the NHL one day.

Birthplace: Boca Raton, Florida

Shoots: Left

Position: Defence

Height: 6'2" Weight: 208lbs

For a big guy, he skates quite well. He has a long, smooth stride and uses that to help move the puck out of the zone. In transition, he shows great gap control and uses his frame to keep opposing forwards on the outside. Once he closes that gap, he has the physicality to make them pay along the wall.

In the offensive zone, he lacks high-end vision and passing, but he has an absolute cannon for a shot. He has clearly figured out how to put all of his weight into it, and when he lets it go it is quite impressive. When playing on the power play, the Sting would often use him stationary at the top of the circle, looking to give him a chance to unleash that shot.

He plays in all situations for the Sting, relied upon for first unit power play and penalty kill duties. On the penalty kill he shows an active stick and solid positioning, making it difficult for the opposition to create chances around him.

One of the common things you'll read about him is that he gets into trouble when trying to do too much. It may be that his impressive rookie season put too much pressure on him, so he was really trying to follow up strong.

The other thing that needs to be considered is that he struggled mightily on offence last year, until the Sting got Travis Konecny from the Ottawa 67s. All of a sudden his assist totals spiked, and he was able to finish the year with more points. The big question is how much of an effect Konecny had on that, and whether Chychrun really made any improvements on his own.

Scouting

Hockey Prospect

Through no fault of his own, Chychrun entered this season with some high expectations, as he was already a top defender as a rookie. He remained one of the top offensive defensemen in the league, but was often trying to do too much, which in our opinion got him into trouble. Chychrun likes to carry the puck up ice but sometimes needs to read his routes a little better. His outlet passes are accurate and skilled most of the time. On the power play he is able to move the puck but can make some poor decisions as well. He likes to shoot the puck and has a very powerful slap shot and a smart wrist shot. He will sometimes fake out the penalty killer and walk in and unload his wrist shot that commonly hit the net.

Defensively Jakob needs to improve. He has the size but looks a little apprehensive at times, one of our scouts speculated early on that it could be due to the numerous shoulder injuries incurred over the past few seasons. He is hit or miss one on one. He's made some solid, smart plays showing the ability to shut down defenders but can be sometimes slow to react against some bigger skilled forwards and can get beat.  Jakob has excellent upside as a potential top pairing defenseman, but still has some room to improve. This has been his first injury free season in three years, which is promising for teams who may be concerned about his shoulder. He looks like he will need a little extra seasoning to further build his strength and improve his defensive ability. He is expected to be one of the first few defenders taken off the board at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

Future Considerations

Chychrun is a physically developed, two-way defenseman who drives the play. He loves to skate the puck up ice, but knows his limits as he is fast to retreat at the first sign of a possession change. The son of former NHLer Jeff Chychrun, he is a smooth, mobile, effortless skater with fluid movements and incredible all-round mobility. He uses his edges with precision to explode off the start and change direction in a flash. His movements in every direction are powerful, smooth and controlled. Quick bursts of acceleration make Chychrun a threat from being stationary as he explodes and moves in a hurry. A smart defender who defends well in all areas, he does a very good job of angling his check wide to the outside upon entry and has good timing with his stick and knows when to step in with the body. He isn’t going to step in and level a player on every play, but he will use his frame consistently to his advantage in outmuscling the man from the puck and removing him from it entirely.

Chychrun possesses incredible hockey sense and adapts to his surroundings quickly and effectively. He reads the play very well and does the little things right with and without the puck. He acts like a general on the ice, guiding his backcheckers on whom to cover. He controls passes with poise, reading the developing play, quickly adjusting his positioning and opening his body to receive the pass; he receives it as smoothly as can be before turning his attention to distributing or getting it to the net. Chychrun thinks quickly to be able to control the pass and turn to the net with a quick stickhandle and hard wrist shot. He settles bouncing pucks with poise and speed as he continues up ice or laterally with no hesitation. Chychrun will go to war on the wall to get the puck off the man, and makes no mistake in getting it out of traffic to open space. With the puck, he shows off his creative side, making a few little moves to get by opponents. He has a big, heavy shot that he gets all of his weight behind and has no trouble blasting.

ISS

Big strong kid that can be very hard to play against when he is on his game. He played well at U18 just not stat wise. Uses his edges well to get out of tight situations and made difficult passes look easy. Smooth and powerful skater, very fluid stride. Good gap control and good stick positioning defending the rush. Played on both PP/PK units and has a cannon from the point. Defensively, he skates backwards very well. Uses his stick very well. High end talent, Low panic threshold, sometimes to a fault. Like to see more urgency in his game.

Rankings

ISS: 8th

Future Considerations: 6th

Hockey Prospect: 14th

DraftBuzz Hockey: 15th

ESPN: 11th

NHL Central Scouting Service: 3rd (North American skaters)

Draft Analyst: 4th

Thoughts

Personally, I'm not sold on Chychrun as much as scouts around the league seem to be. I think that a lot of the hype surrounding him has to do with his size and physicality, which are good traits for defencemen, but certainly not the only ones that matter.

Unless a team ahead of the Canadiens decides that they really want to get him, he should be on the board when the ninth pick comes around. I firmly believe that they would be able to get a better defenceman at that position, never mind overall player. I don't think Chychrun is a bad player, I just don't think that he is a top-10 pick in the draft.

If they were picking somewhere between 12-18, and guys like Olli Juolevi and Mikhail Sergachev were already gone, then I'd support the idea of taking a look at Chychrun. Since they're at nine, I think that they could do better by selecting a forward, or one of those other defencemen.

Then there is the aforementioned issue of his struggle to produce last year until the arrival of Travis Konecny. This is a big point of concern, because he finished the year with less goals than his rookie season, but far more assists. The majority of those assists were also secondary (20/38), so you have to wonder about his development a little.

Jakob Chychrun does look like the type of player who will have a successful NHL career. I am simply not as high on him as others, so I would not use the ninth overall pick to get him.