In this week’s edition of the Arizona Coyotes 2021-22 offseason player reviews, we’ll take a look at the biggest name floating around right now in trade rumors, defenseman Jakob Chychrun. After a Norris-caliber season in 2020-21, where he recorded 41 points in 56 games, the Coyotes’ defenseman took a major step back this past season, struggling offensively and defensively, while failing to stay healthy for most of the year.
Entering this past season, fans were eager to see Chychrun pick up where he left off in 2020-21. A lower-body injury in mid-December caused him to miss 32 games before re-aggravating the issue in mid-March, resulting in him being sidelined for the rest of the season. Excepted to be healthy and ready to go by the start of the season, 2022-23 will be an important one for the Coyotes’ defensive star if he wants to regain his 2020-21 season form.
Chychrun’s Season in Review
Chychrun’s 2021-22 season was not what he nor management had hoped for. A year removed from a 41-point season, one that saw him finish 10th in Norris Trophy voting, everyone expected the Coyotes defenseman to take that next step and lead the team through the beginning of their rebuild. What they got though was the opposite. Injuries, offensive struggles, and losing on a nightly basis led to frustration, which impacted his game. In 47 games, he recorded 21 points on seven goals and 14 assists, the lowest number of points since his 2018-19 season.
Add on top trade rumors circulating around him since well before the trade deadline, and you get a sense of the frustration that he was dealing with for a chunk of the season and why the team has received offers involving him. The Coyotes, though, don’t plan to move him, nor has the defenseman asked to be moved. He’s viewed as a core piece to the team’s rebuild, and rightly so. Any player involved in trade speculation for 3/4’s of the season would have their production and motivation negatively impacted. Overall, while this past season was not what he had hoped for, there’s still excitement and optimism revolving around him for the upcoming season as he comes off an injury.
What Chychrun Can Improve On, Build off Of
When healthy, there’s no denying Chychrun is one of the league’s top defensemen. He moves the puck well and has a strong shot. This past year, though, showed areas of his game that he needs to improve on if he plans to bounce back stronger than ever. For starters, this past season, he had issues with keeping the opposition from scoring when on the ice, registering a plus/minus of minus-20. He failed to maintain puck possession, turning it over a staggering 37 times in just 47 games and struggled to stay out of the box, registering 47 penalty minutes. His overall frustration added to this, at times looking uninterested or giving up. While the rebuild added to this behavior, he needs to find that spark in his game again if he plans to get back on top.
Despite struggles and the constant rumors surrounding his name, which affected his play, Chychrun is still a valuable top-pairing defenseman. He has all the skills to have a bounce-back season, as his ability to control a game and lead the rush up the ice is comparable to the likes of Victor Hedman. He is also a terrific shot blocker, blocking 498 shots in 337 career games and has laid the body an additional 442 times in those 337 games. Furthermore, he has the ability to take the puck off the opponent’s stick and make something happen. Once again, without a doubt, when healthy, he’s one of the best defensemen in the league right now. At just 24 years of age, he’s one of the most valuable and highly coveted guys circulating in trade speculation, and for good reason.
Chychrun’s Next Move
Going forward, all eyes will be on Arizona and what comes out of the Chychrun situation. He’s viewed as one of the team’s core pieces, and it’s no secret they want him here. He’s a game changer and has shown that time and time again. Unless he says something, expect him to be back and better next season after rehabbing this offseason. But, if the Coyotes decide to move on from him, expect a massive return back. This will be an interesting season nonetheless for the Coyotes, and only time will tell if he’s still in a Kachina sweater come season’s end.
What do you think of Chychrun? Let us know in the comments section below. Next week is goaltender Karel Vejmelka.
Mr. Evans is originally from Greenville, SC where he currently resides. Mr. Evans has been involved in hockey for the past 18 years now, following the Arizona Coyotes and St. Louis Blues. During his free time, Mr. Evans enjoys spending time with his family and girlfriend as well as being up in the mountains or taking pictures. Prior to joining The Hockey Writers, Mr. Evans previously worked for The Puck Authority, covering the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL and FanSided’s Bleedin’ Blue, covering the St. Louis Blues. You can find Mr. Evans on Twitter at @HaynesPEvans.