Coyotes’ Chychrun Shows Promise of Future Norris Trophy Contention

After a shortened season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were many intriguing stories and highlights from the season. Connor McDavid recorded a whopping 105 points in 56 games, Adam Fox beat out Cale Makar and Victor Hedman for the Norris, and Marc-Andre Fleury won the Vezina Trophy after an outstanding 1.98 goals against average during the regular season.

While those were all memorable moments from the regular season, the Arizona Coyotes who failed to make the playoffs for a consecutive season, had a few memorable moments as well. Phil Kessel had a breakout after an abysmal first year in the desert, Adin Hill took a big leap in proving he’s ready to be a starting goalie, and forward Michael Bunting came out of nowhere after being called up from Tucson. The most memorable moment from this past season, though, was Jakob Chychrun and his stellar season, proving that he not only is the face of this franchise, but also a serious contender for the Norris Trophy in the future.

Chychrun led all defensemen in goals this past season with 18 in 56 games and was a very good two-way defensemen. He shocked tons of people in the process, finishing the season at number 10 in Norris voting, as well as 11th, statistically, out of 316 defensemen, proving that he is a legitimate defensemen who can be a Norris Trophy finalist in the future.

How Good Is Chychrun Actually?

In 56 games this year, the Coyotes defenseman registered 18 goals, and 23 assists for 41 points. In addition he added 42 penalty minutes on the season along with a minus-6 plus/minus rating. In comparison to Fox of the New York Rangers who won the Norris Trophy this year, Chychrun registered very similar numbers, with Fox registering five goals and 42 assists for 47 points.

It is worth noting that while Chychrun stacked up statistically with Makar, Hedman, and Fox, he is still a year or two away from being in the same category as the three. Chychrun is a very good, young defensemen who has improved every season he’s been in the league and he’s only going to get better with time. He’s still got things to learn, but has shown in just a short time that he’s the team’s No. 1 defenseman.

Jakob Chychrun Arizona Coyotes
Jakob Chychrun, Arizona Coyotes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Chychrun has also proved to be a good leader, an area in which the team lacked this season. In addition, he displays elite four-way skating ability, while also not being afraid to throw his weight around physically. He plays with poise and composure and has a very effective shot. There’s not really much you can say bad about his game when you look at his stats and read feedback from scouts and coaches about his play.

Chychrun himself was asked this offseason about how he felt this season and had this to say:

“I feel like I’ve matured and grown, and gotten myself into a more vocal kind of leadership role for this group. So that’s something I take a lot of pride in.”

What He Can Improve On

To think that there’s little the former 16th-overall pick has done wrong or can work on is incorrect. While he’s constantly been praised for how he plays on and off the puck, Chychrun has trouble staying out of the penalty box. This season, the defenseman registered 42 penalty minutes in 56 games. In addition, he’s recorded a staggering 171 penalty minutes in 290 career games in just five seasons so far.

Chychrun also needs to tweak some stuff. The hope obviously from management is that if he keeps developing and working on the defensive side of his game, while also trimming up some of his game, he could make a serious push for a spot as a Norris Trophy candidate or a winner, perhaps.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Chychrun is exactly what the Coyotes are looking for. He’s a leader, he’s a great puck handler with a good shot, and he’s a smart, two-way defensemen who can make something out of nothing. While he stacks up with the rest of the league, he still has some fine tuning to do before he’s a finalist for the Norris Trophy. Coyotes fans have a lot to look forward to and the future is bright, and maybe, just perhaps, they’ll have a Norris Trophy defensemen in the future on their blue line leading them to success.

One thing is for sure, though, the new age of defensemen in the league now are skilled, two-way guys who will change the position for years to come. Chychrun will look to be a part of that new wave of defensemen while hopefully cementing his spot as one of the top defensemen to ever play the game.

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