The Canadian Junior A represents a lower tier of junior hockey. It is situated right below the three major leagues of the CHL (QMJHL, OHL and WHL) in terms of competitiveness, and is made up of players who are not yet good enough for the level above, but also of individuals who choose not go the major junior route, wanting to pursue NCAA hockey.
American colleges forbid any prior pro experience for their players. The CHL falls under that category. Thus, the competitive level of Canadian Junior A is improved by the presence of some players who would be, without a doubt, contributors in the CHL, but who can't play in the league due to NCAA rules.
Jonny Tychonick, who has committed next year to the University of North Dakota, is one of those players.
Birthplace: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Weight: 174 lbs.
Team: Penticton Vees
A year after Cale Makar was selected out of the AJHL fourth overall by the Colorado Avalanche, once more proving that talent can grow in the lower tiers of junior, Tychonick has been dominating the BCHL with the Penticton Vees, scoring at around a point-per-game pace.
The Vees' defenceman isn't putting up the same numbers as Makar, but his production is still worthy of interest. Tychonick also upped his game in the playoffs with a performance of 17 points in 11 games.
Evaluating talent at the BCHL level is a challenge. And Tychonick's production has to be inflated by the weaker opposition he faces every night. But as in the case of Makar, there are some tools in his game that makes the prospect an attractive pick.
Tychonick's offensive game is based on his feet and release. He fluidly patrols the blue line, waiting to receive the puck to fire a quick and low shot at the net, aiming for the stick of his teammates to try for a deflection.
He is not shy to take the puck further up in the offensive zone when he has the chance, jumping from the point for a wrister. He owns the space available to him and is precise in his releases. He also has good vision and is capable of freezing defenders on occasions to create space for himself and teammates alike.
But, overall, Tychonick has trouble playing against tight coverage. And while his puck-handling skills and impressive agility should enable him to displace opponents better for his releases, he does so inconsistently. He tends to rush his shots on net and fire off the shin pads of blocking defenders.
Despite this, Tychonick was still far ahead of most other players on the ice with the Vees when it came to offensive capabilities. And with the tools he has, would likely have made an impact as an offensive defenceman in the CHL. Not to the same extent as in the BCHL, but he would have been a player to watch on the power play.
On the defensive side of the game, Tychonick shows some other inconsistencies in his gap control while defending off the rush, sometimes leaving too much space for opposing forwards to work with or being too agressiv. But his smooth pivots and great stick work still allow him to repair mistakes, deny access to the slot, and adjust to counter the different moves of approaching opponents easily.
In his own end, Tychonick closes the gap with opponents and stays with them, even if he doesn't have the strength yet to impose himself physically very often. At the U18 World Championship, he was trusted to play on the penalty kill due to his solid positioning. He was caught puck-watching or reaching at times, but considering the drastic change in level of competition, it was impressive how quickly he showed he could adapt to playing against much more talented and faster opponents.
Rankings (not all rankings are final)
Future Considerations: #31
Hockey Prospect: #29
NHL Central Scouting: #36 (NA skaters)
Tychonick can also be an asset on the breakout by carrying the puck out if given the chance, evading forecheckers with his strong edgework, and springing his forwards with precise stretch passes.
All in all, Tychonick isn't as dynamic in the offensive zone as his numbers would suggest. He has some great flashes and an impressive skating agility, but doesn't create as many plays on his own as you would expect out of a potential strong offensive defenceman playing in a lower-tier league.
For this reason, he would probably be a later second-round pick for me than where he is projected to end up on most scouting websites.
Tychonick is transitioning to NCAA hockey, where he could learn to utilize his tools better in an environment that is often optimized for development, and taking a chance on him still makes a lot of sense for a team looking to furnish the left side of its defence.
The BCHL player is a project, probably more so than some other prospects slated to go in the first two rounds, but still has shown numerous qualities that are not possessed by the majority of players in this draft, and is more than worth the consideration.